Court of Appeals & You

 

Your next appellate court judge will be writing 70 opinions a year that impact you and your individual rights.  An opinion is a published case decision that sets the law in Washington, subject only to review by the Supreme Court of Washington.

These decisions generally review the Superior Court’s decisions for the correct application of law.  These decisions impact you directly, whether they deal with housing and rent, your rights to employment, safety or many other legal rights, they all matter.

Washington’s Constitution mandates that courts are “established to protect and maintain individual rights.”  If elected, I will honor and fulfill this constitutional mandate as your next judge on the Court of Appeals.

Understanding Our Court System

 

Division III of the Court of Appeals hears all of the appellate cases east of the Cascades.  However, its opinions impact all of Washington because Washington has one united Court of Appeals despite having three different divisions.

Washington’s Constitution empowers the people to choose its judges via election.  While writing the appellate decisions is the role of the Court of Appeals judges, voting for the next Court of Appeals judge is your chance to make your voice heard about who should fill that role.

The Court of Appeals is not your typical court as it does not hear trials or have juries. Instead, it reviews the trial courts decisions that are sent up on appeal.  Below is a diagram of the Washington Courts that shows where the Court of Appeals fits in.

Washington State’s Court Structure

 

As this diagram shows, Washington’s courts are made up of numerous levels.  The Court of Appeal’s role in this system is to review trial court decisions for error.  For most people, it is the last court from which they are able to seek justice.  Because of this, the Court of Appeals is important to ensuring that everyone has access to justice and that his or her individual rights are protected.

Appellate Courts

Supreme Court and Court of Appeals

Like this diagram shows, Washington’s courts are made up of a variety of levels.  The Court of Appeals’ role in this system is to review trial court decisions for error.  For most people, it is the last court from which they get to seek justice.  Because of this, the Court of Appeals is important to ensuring that everyone has access to justice, and his or her individual rights are protected.

 

Trial Courts

Superior Court

A superior court judge can hear almost any matter in the State of Washington.  These include felony matters, property matters, and civil litigation matters.  These lower courts are also known as the courts of general jurisdiction.

Because superior courts have such broad jurisdiction, these judges preside over a high volume of cases, and must render many decisions.

 

District Court

A district court judge hears smaller civil litigation matters and smaller criminal matters, known as (gross) misdemeanors.  These courts are known as courts of limited jurisdiction.  

 

Municipal Court

A municipal court judge hears city-specific actions.  These are traffic tickets and smaller criminal matters, known as (gross) misdemeanors.

What does this mean for our community?