Washington’s Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court for the state, and they hear most of the appeals coming from lower courts and administrative agencies. The Court of Appeals is divided into three divisions with each serving a specific area of the state.
Each has a different number of judges. There are 22 total Court of Appeals judges in Washington. They serve staggered six-year terms so that there is never a situation where all the judges are up for re-election at the same time. Division I is in Seattle and has ten judges, Division II is in Tacoma and has seven judges, and Division III is in Spokane and has five judges. To qualify to be a Court of Appeals judge, someone must first be a licensed attorney in the state for five years and have lived in their district for more than one year. The Governor fills vacancies by appointing a temporary judge until the next election. One presiding judge is elected in all three divisions, and he or she serves that role for one year.
Most of the cases appealed from the Superior Courts go to the Court of Appeals in Washington. This court is a non-discretionary appellate court meaning it cannot refuse any appeals and must accept all of them. However, they can send the appeal back to the lower court to re-try, or they can overrule the original decision.
The Court of Appeals does not hold trials. Instead, a panel of judges sits to review the original case transcript, written briefs, and oral arguments to ensure that no errors were made in applying the law in the first case. The Washington Court of Appeals is supported by the Court Clerk’s Office, the Commissioner, and Law Clerks as well as other administrative staff.