Washington Court Records
The state of Washington has a traditional court structure involving several appellate, trial and hearing courts which include: The Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Superior Courts, District Courts, and Municipal Courts. Each type of court documents their proceedings to later provide publicly accessible court records.
The increases in Internet accessibility and growing capacity of digital storage have been major influences on the availability of court records today. It is no longer necessary to drive to the courthouse or law library during business hours and wait for a clerk or librarian to assist you in locating a document. Now the public and law professionals alike have millions of court records readily available at all times through online access.
History of Washington Court Records
The original Supreme Court of Washington existed while it was still a part of the Oregon Territory from 1848-1853. Later this territory separated and the new Washington territory comprised a Supreme Court with 3 justices. Washington officially joined the United States in 1889, and the state constitution called for five Supreme Court justices elected by the people.
Today, the Supreme Court of Washington has grown to nine justices which preside over all cases en banc since the formation of the Court of Appeals in 1969.
Washington Court Records Availability
The Administrative Office of the Court provides a statewide online search engine for criminal and civil cases filed in the Appellate, Superior, District, and Municipal Courts of Washington. Access to court records is available to the public, to conduct a search for court records of interest; you may use the case number, person’s name or business name.
The Washington State Law Library maintains a comprehensive printed compilation of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals briefs dating back to 1889 when Washington officially joined the United States.
Main Court Information
Located in Olympia, the Washington Supreme Court is the court of last resort and is composed of nine justices elected to six-year terms. The state’s constitution calls for a minimum of five justices, including a Chief Justice to serve at any given time. The main responsibilities of the Supreme Court are to interpret cases involving the state or federal constitutions, uphold the bar of Olympia by admitting and dismissing attorneys and justices, as well as handle appellate cases from lower courts.
The Court of Appeals differs from the Supreme Court as it is a non-discretionary appellate court, meaning it may not turn down cases that are appealed before the court, and must accept, review and issue a disposition for any case filed. The Court of Appeals is made up of three divisions based in different locations throughout the state and includes 22 judges. Criminal and civil cases are typically heard by a panel of three justices in Seattle, Tacoma or Spokane.
The Supreme Court of Washington received filings for 1,578 cases in 2013 and of those 1,509 met with a disposition. The year prior was similar with 1,479 filings and 1,439 dispositions.