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Washington Court of Appeals

The Washington Court of Appeals is the intermediate level appellate court for the state of Washington.

The court is divided into three divisions. Division I is based in Seattle, Division II is based in Tacoma, and Division III is based in Spokane.

Map of Divisions of the Court of Appeals


  • History 1
  • Composition 2
  • Jurisdiction 3
    • Jurisdiction Precluded (Vested in the Supreme Court of Washington) 3.1
  • Divisions 4
    • Division I 4.1
    • Division II 4.2
    • Division III 4.3
  • Skamania/Klickitat Counties 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The need for an intermediate appellate court to relieve the heavy workload of the Washington Supreme Court was felt as far back as 1929 when the state's Judicial Council suggested the establishment of such a court as a possible option for judicial restructuring. However, nothing happened until the mid-1960s, when work began on a Court of Appeals.

A Constitutional Amendment was passed on November 5, 1968 authorizing the legislature to create a Court of Appeals, and to define its composition and jurisdiction. The legislature passed the enabling act, and a Court of Appeals, with three divisions with a total of 12 judges was established on May 12. 1969. The initial appointments were made by Governor Dan Evans with the judges all facing election at the general election of 1970 with each elected judge initially serving terms of two, four and six years determined by lot.[1]


The Court currently has 22 judges, who sit in three geographic divisions. Within each division cases are heard by panels of three. There is no en banc procedure. Judges are elected for 6-year terms and must retire like the judges of the other Washington courts at the end of the calendar year in which they reach the age of 75.[2]


By statute, the court is empowered to hear the following types of cases: 1. As a matter of right, all appeals from final judgments’ of the Superior Court, and all other orders that effectively cut-off further litigation, such as condemnation orders, termination of parental rights, juvenile court proceedings, and incompetency proceedings.[3]

  • All Personal Restraint Petitions (a statutory variation of the Writ of Habeas Corpus) [4]
  • Writs of Mandamus and quo warranto (the Writ of Habeas Corpus is only available in Superior Court) [5]
  • Appeals from decisions of administrative agencies.
  • Discretionary Review of the Superior Court's decision in an appeal from a court of limited jurisdiction.[6]
  • Discretionary Review of interlocutory appeals from rulings of the Superior Court for which there is no other effective remedy.[7]

Jurisdiction Precluded (Vested in the Supreme Court of Washington)


Division I

Division I sits in Seattle, and is the smallest of the three geographic divisions, though the largest by population. It stretches from the White River (to the extent it serves at part of King county's southern boundary) in the south to the Canadian border in the north, and from the Cascade Range in the east to the San Juan Islands in the west. The division hears appeals from Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom. This division has ten judges:

  • Marlin J. Appelwick
  • Mary Kay Becker
  • Ronald E. Cox
  • Stephen J. Dwyer
  • Linda Lau
  • J. Robert Leach
  • Ann Schindler
  • Michael S. Spearman, Chief Judge
  • Michael J. Trickey
  • James R. Verellen, Acting Chief Judge

Division II

Division II sits in Tacoma and hears appeals from the counties of Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania (see note, infra.), Thurston and Wahkiakum. This division has seven judges:

  • Thomas Bjorgen, Acting Chief Judge
  • Lisa Sutton
  • Jill Johanson, Chief Judge
  • Linda Lee
  • Bradley A. Maxa
  • Rich Melnick
  • Lisa R. Worswick

Division III

Division III sits in Spokane and includes the three-fifths of the state's land area that lies east of the Cascade Range. In addition to the state's second largest city, Spokane; it embraces the regional cities of Yakima and the Tri-Cities of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland. It hears appeals from Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat (see note, infra.), Lincoln, Okanigan, Pend Orelle, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman and Yakima counties. This division has five judges:

  • Stephen M. Brown, Acting Chief Judge
  • George B. Fearing
  • Kevin M. Korsmo, Presiding Chief Judge
  • Robert Lawrence-Berrey
  • Laurel Siddoway, Chief Judge

Skamania/Klickitat Counties

Skamania County is in Division II; Klickitat County is in Division III. These counties are sparsely populated, so do not qualify for their own Superior Court Judge. They must share one Superior Court Judge. When the judge presides in Skamania County, Division II opinions are followed. When the judge presides in Klickitat County, Division III opinions are followed. When the Divisions issue conflicting opinions, practitioners must be careful to follow/cite from the appropriate appellate division.


  1. ^ see generally Ch. 2.06 Rev. Code Wash.
  2. ^ see generally Ch. 2.06 Rev. Code Wash.
  3. ^ Wash. R.App.P 2.2, 6.1
  4. ^ Wash. R.App.P. 16.1 et seq.
  5. ^ Id.
  6. ^ Wash. R.App.P. 2.2.
  7. ^ Wash. R.App.P 2.3
  8. ^ 1969 Wash. Laws ch. 121

External links

  • Washington State Trial and Appellate Courts homepage
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