Washington's Superior Courts are the general jurisdiction courts for the state and the highest trial courts. They handle all types of criminal and civil cases. These courts also hear appeals from the limited jurisdiction courts like Municipal Courts and District Courts. Superior Courts are courts of record, and many courthouses use video to preserve the cases for later review if the cases are appealed.
Cases from Superior Courts that are appealed may go to the Court of Appeals or directly to the Supreme Court. The types of cases handled in Superior Courts are civil matters, domestic relations cases, felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile matters, and appeals from state agencies.
Superior Courts have a special Juvenile Division to handle all offenses committed by people younger than 18 years old. Juvenile Superior Courts also handle child abuse, dependency, and neglect cases.
Most Superior Courts serve only one county, but some are multi-county districts. Washington has 30 Superior Court districts in the state and 39 Superior Courts. In rural areas of the state, judges may rotate, and more than one Superior Court can share one judge. Judges are elected into office and serve four-year terms. In the event of a vacancy, the Governor appoints a judge to sit in until the next election. All judges must be licensed attorneys. In each district, one judge is elected to act as the presiding judge, and he or she assumes additional supervisory and administrative responsibilities along with their tasks as a judge. All Superior Court judges belong to an organization called the "Superior Court Judges' Association." This group works towards the goal of improving the court system and process for staff and patrons.
On average, each year Superior Courts see about 266,869 new cases. Almost half (110,000) are for civil claims, 46,500 are for criminal issues, and 37,800 are for domestic matters.