State Law: Court Cases


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The judicial branch of state government interprets the law. There are four levels of courts in Washington State. From lowest to highest authority,  they are:


Courts of limited jurisdiction (such as municipal courts), Superior Courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Washington State Supreme Court.  The decisions of the State Supreme Court, combined with the State Constitution and laws created by the Legislature, are the common or precedent law of the state. They are legal precedent, or authority, for lawyers and judges in disputes involving similar questions of law.


Spokane Public Library receives court decisions of the Court of Appeals and the State Supreme Court. While there are subject indexes for each year, it may be more efficient to use the legal indexes and finding aids at the Spokane County Law Library and Gonzaga University Law Library. To find a particular case at Spokane Public Library, it is best to have the name of the case (e.g. Jane Doe vs. John Doe), the court it was tried in, and the year it was tried.


The State Supreme Court

Washington Reports, First Series[1889-1939] and Second Series [1939-present]. In Compact Storage at the Downtown Library. Request them at the Second Floor Reference and Information Desk. Call Number: R 345.42 W276c2.


Some recent Supreme Court opinions are available on the Internet on the Washington State Courts Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Opinions page.


Washington Territory Reports [for 1854-1889], by the Supreme Court of the Territory of Washington. 3 volumes.  In the Northwest Room at the Downtown Library. Call Number: NW-R 345.42 W276t.


Digest of the decisions of the Supreme court of Washington [covering Washington Territorial Reports and volumes 1-80 of Washington Reports], by Arthur Remington, 1907-15, 5 volumes. In the Northwest Room at the Downtown Library.Call Number: NW-R 345.3 R284.


The State Court of Appeals

Washington Appellate Reports. 1969 - present. Only cases that have precedential value are published here. In Compact Storage at the Downtown Library. Request them at the Second Floor Reference and Information Desk. Call Number: R 347.797 W279.


Some recent Court of Appeals opinions are available on the Internet on the Washington State Courts Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Opinions page.