How Are Judges Selected In Washington State

Selection of judges for Washington state courts is a complex process that involves election and appointment. This article details how judges are selected in Washington state courts. This page explains how judges are selected to serve in Washington State. For example, state supreme court justices are appointed by a commission of nine state officials and confirmed by the state senate.

Judicial selection in Washington - Ballotpedia

Judges in Washington are selected, or elected, to their position from a list of qualified candidates. This informative guide is designed to give you background on the process and information necessary to become a judge.

In Washington State, judges are elected in nonpartisan elections. When a justice of the Washington Supreme Court, a judge of the state Court of Appeals or a superior court resigns or dies during a term of office, the Governor appoints a new judge to fill that position.

The nine state Supreme Court justices are elected to six-year terms. Each term is staggered to maintain continuity of the court. The only requirement for the office is that a prospective justice be admitted to the practice of law in Washington state.

Right here on Collegelearners, you can rest assured to obtain all the relevant information you need on Washington State Supreme Court judges, Washington Supreme Court Justices, how are judges selected, how to become a judge in Washington State, and so much more.

Judges in Washington state can't deny custody to gay or bi parents.

In Washington State, judges are appointed by the Governor in most cases.   Judges that sit on the district courts and appellate courts must have prior experience as a judge to be appointed.   Officials that serve on administrative boards, commissioners or justices of the peace also qualify for judgeship appointments. It is important to note that individuals that were convicted of a felony crime before they became an attorney are not eligible for an appointment.

Washington State does not provide any specific criteria for selecting judges, however here are some general guidelines for appointment. In small counties, the justices themselves typically make the appointment. The bar associations of these counties also hold a lot of sway in the process. In larger counties, there may be a nominating committee or a commission made up of lawyers that make recommendations to the governor. It should be noted though that no system will absolutely guarantee fairness and competence if it is left entirely up to the politics of elected officials.

Washington judges are selected in very different ways depending upon the type of case. There are many factors to consider when determining which judges will hear a particular type of case, including the specific subject matter of the case, the county where it will be heard, and even the political affiliation or beliefs of individual judges.

Methods of Judicial Selection: Washington

There are four levels of courts in Washington–the supreme court, the court of appeals, the superior court, and the district and municipal courts. The district and municipal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Washington judges are selected in nonpartisan elections. Washington is one of only three states in which a majority of the members of the high court are women.

Prior to 2006, Washington was one of only four states without limits on campaign contributions to judicial candidates, but in the spring of that year the legislature applied the same contribution limits to judicial candidates that were in place for other candidates. Nonetheless, 2006 was a recordbreaking year for fundraising by supreme court candidates in Washington, leading some reform groups to call for public financing of judicial elections or a move to merit selection.

Judicial selection in Washington, D.C. - Ballotpedia

Judges are selected by two different methods. The first is a commission of judges who are elected every four years by Washington lawyers. These “Judicial Circuits” select one candidate in the primary and one in the general election, and they also attempt to ensure a racial and gender balance on the bench. The second method is a simple majority of votes cast by delegates at a state-wide judicial nominating convention.

Selection of Judges

Number of Judgeships
Supreme Court:9
Court of Appeals:22
Superior Court:186
Number of Districts/Circuits
Supreme Court:
Court of Appeals:9
Superior Court:30
Geographic Basis for Selection
Supreme Court:statewide*
Court of Appeals:district
Superior Court:county
JUDICIAL SELECTION IN WASHINGTON: WHERE HAVE WE BEEN AND WHERE SHOULD WE  GO? David C. Brody, J.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor Washington State  University. - ppt download
Method of Selection (full term)
Supreme Court:nonpartisan election**
Court of Appeals:nonpartisan election**
Superior Court:nonpartisan election**
Length of Term
Supreme Court:6 yrs
Court of Appeals:6 yrs
Superior Court:4 yrs
Method of Retention
Supreme Court:reelection
Court of Appeals:reelection
Superior Court:reelection
Length of Subsequent Terms
Supreme Court:6 yrs
Court of Appeals:6 yrs
Superior Court:4 yrs
Method of Filling Interim Vacancies
Supreme Court:gubernatorial appointment
Court of Appeals:gubernatorial appointment
Superior Court:gubernatorial appointment
When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment
Supreme Court:next general election; successor holds office for remainder of unexpired term
Court of Appeals:next general election; successor holds office for remainder of unexpired term
Superior Court:next general election; successor holds office for remainder of unexpired term
Selection of Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court:peer vote
Court of Appeals:peer vote
Superior Court:peer vote***
Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court:4 yrs
Court of Appeals:1 yr
Superior Court:at least 1 yr***
Supreme Court:licensed to practice in state; retirement age is 75
Court of Appeals:5 yrs practice in state; resident of district at least 1 yr
Superior Court:licensed to practice in state; retirement age is 75

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Article IV of the Washington Constitution and Chapter 2.06 of the Revised Code of Washington.

*Currently, the supreme court has one justice from eastern Washington (Debra Stephens), while six of the justices are from the Seattle-Tacoma area. Various proposals have been made in the legislature for geographically based election schemes.

**Judicial candidates run in a primary election. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the names of the top two vote getters are placed on the general election ballot.

***Each superior court district may establish local rules for the appointment and term of the chief judge. However, the chief judge must be selected by a vote of his/her peers and the term must be at least one year.

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