The Washington Supreme Court is the highest court in the judiciary of the US state of Washington. The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and eight Justices. Members of the Court are elected to six-year terms. Justices must retire at the end of the calendar year in which they reach the age of 75, per the Washington State Constitution.
The Chief Justice is chosen by secret ballot by the Justices to serve a 4-year term, with any justice elected to fill a vacancy in the office serving out the term of his or her predecessor. The current Chief Justice is Barbara Madsen who was elected to fill a vacancy in November 2010 and took office in January 2011, she was elected by her colleagues to a full 4-year term in October 2012. Prior to January 1997 (pursuant to a Constitutional amendment adopted in 1995) the post of Chief Justice was held for a 2-year term by a justice who (i) was one of the Justices with 2 years left in their term, (ii) was the most senior in years of service of that cohort, and (iii) (generally) had not previously served as Chief Justice. The last Chief Justice under the rotation system, Barbara Durham was the architect of the present internal election system, and was the first to be elected under the new procedure, serving until her resignation in 1999.
The court convenes in the Temple of Justice, a historic building on the Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, Washington.
The persuasiveness of the Court's decisions reaches far beyond Washington's borders. A Supreme Court of California study published in 2007 found that the Washington Supreme Court's decisions were the second most widely followed by the appellate courts of all other US states in the period from 1940 to 2005 (second only to California).
The interior of the Washington State Supreme Court
The foyer of the Temple of Justice building