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Washington State Courts

Courts – State Courts – Washington

Highest Court

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court consists of 9 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Appeals from the Court of Appeals. (2) Direct Appeals when action of state officers is involved, the constitutionality of a statute is questioned, there are conflicting statutes or rules of law, or when the issue is of broad public interest. (3) Final rule-making body for other state courts. (4) Administers state court system. (4) Supervises attorney discipline statewide.

Intermediate Courts

Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals consists of 22 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Appeals from lower courts except those in jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

General Courts

Superior Court
The Superior Court consists of 175 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil matters involving a dollar amount over $50,000; title or possession of real property; legality of tax, assessment or toll, probate, and domestic matters. (2) Original jurisdiction in all criminal cases amounting to felony. (3) Original jurisdiction in all criminal cases when jurisdiction is not otherwise provided for by law. (4) Exclusive original jurisdiction over juvenile matters. (5) Orders for protection from domestic violence. (6) Appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction heard de novo or appealed on the record for error of law.

Limited Courts

District and Municipal Court
The District and Municipal Court consists of 221 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Concurrent jurisdiction with superior courts in all misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor actions with a maximum fine of $5,000 or less and/or jail sentence of one year or less in violation  of state/county statues or county/municipal ordinances. (2) Jurisdiction in all matters involving traffic, non-traffic, and parking infractions. (3) Orders for protection from domestic violence. (4) Civil antiharrassment matters. (5) Civil impoundment matters (municipal court jurisdiction expanded to include these matters previously heard only by district courts). (6) Concurrent jurisdiction with superior courts over civil actions involving $50,000 or less. (7) Small Claims of up to $4,000. (8) Preliminary hearings of felonies.

Additional Information

Justices, judges to wear gowns
All justices of the supreme court, court of appeals, and the superior courts shall wear judicial -style gowns of black silk in open court during the presentation of causes. (RCW 2.04.110)

Report to governor
Supreme Court Judges shall send a written report of  defects and omissions they believe to be in the laws to the governor on or before January first.  (RCW 2.04.230)

Reporting defects or omissions in the laws
The Court of Appeal judges on or before the first day of November send a written report to the justices of the Supreme court of any defects or omissions they believe exist in the laws. (RCW 2.06.110)

Part time District Judge
A part-time district judge may act as an attorney in any court except the one in which he or she is a judge, except in an action, suit, or proceeding removed therefrom to another court for review. (RCW 2.28.040)

Judicial officers — Powers
Every judicial officer has power — (1) To preserve and enforce order in his immediate presence and in the proceedings before him, when he is engaged in the performance of a duty imposed upon him by law. (2) To compel obedience to his lawful orders as provided by law. (3) To compel the attendance of persons to testify in a proceeding pending before him, in the cases and manner provided by law. (4) To administer oaths to persons in a proceeding pending before him, and in all other cases where it may be necessary in the exercise of his powers and the performance of his duties.(RCW 2.28.060)

Federal court certification of local law question.
In a situation when a federal court proceeding is pending and a definite answer is needed from an obscure  local law  to dispose of the proceeding, the federal court may certify the supreme court to answer the question of local law involved and the supreme court shall render its opinion in answer thereto. (RCW 2.60.020)

Refusal to obey subpoena — Powers of superior court
A person who refuses to obey a subpoena issued by the commission or refuses to answer during a hearing or proceeding, may be ordered to appear or answer by the superior court of the hearing or jurisdiction.  Failure of the individual to obey is punished as contempt of court. (RCW 2.64.070)

Inside Washington State Courts