Washington Court Records Lookup

The following is for information purposes only

Washington Court Records

What types of courts are in Washington?

The court system in the state of Washington consists of trial courts, a court of appeals, and a Supreme Court. All of these courts have different jurisdictions and they all balance one another out. The Supreme Court is the court with the highest power, able to appeal any of the decisions made by the lower courts.

There are also federal courts in the state, which deal with any federal crimes committed including both civil and criminal. The federal courts have a branch that deals with bankruptcies, hearing cases that deal with a bankruptcy on a federal level.

The courts in the state are all balanced by one another and uphold the law of the United States. The Supreme Court of the United States can handle cases that come out of the state if they are passed on by the Supreme Court of the state, creating a system of checks and balances to uphold the law and provide justice to all of those charged with a crime.

How are court cases in Washington managed?

The superior court has jurisdiction over the lower-level trial courts. The superior court can hear appeals from the municipal and district courts, deciding whether or not to overturn a ruling. Additionally, they deal with cases that violate criminal and civil law. There is a court of appeals in the state, which handles all of the appeals and decides whether to hear them or not.

All of the courts in the state are overseen by the Supreme Court, which can choose to appeal decisions and can ensure that all judges are acting lawfully. There are four justices that sit on the Supreme Court, all of which were elected in a nonpartisan election and appointed by the governor of the state.

Which trial courts are in Washington?

District Courts

The district courts of Washington are among the lower-level courts of the state and account for both civil and criminal cases committed in the state. The district courts have jurisdiction over any cases for small claims under $5000 and can hold preliminary hearings for court cases of all kinds. The court does hear trial cases, though they do not usually hear trials in the case of traffic violations or other violations that deal with family matters or issues.

Municipal Courts

The municipal courts in the state of Washington hear cases that deal with traffic violations and other types of violations. The municipal courts can hold hearings that involve a jury though it is not typical for the types of cases that they oversee.

Superior Court

Above the two lower courts mentioned above is the Superior Court. The Superior Court does hear jury cases and usually deals with cases that deal with misdemeanor and felony offenses. In addition, they also have jurisdiction over cases that deal with family matters, including divorce and domestic relations. They take all cases that deal with juveniles and even deal with criminal appeals from the lower courts.

The Court of Appeals

In Washington, there is also a court of appeals that deals with appeals from the lower courts and the Superior Court. The Court of appeals can appeal cases themselves and overturn decisions that were made in the lower courts. The cases that they deal with can be both civil and criminal and be classified as either a felony or misdemeanor.

What are the federal district courts in Washington?

In the state of Washington, there are two federal courts, which include:

  • The Eastern District of Washington – The Eastern District federal court in the state of Washington has jurisdiction in the eastern half of the state, which includes counties like Adams, Franklin, and Pend. This court deals with all civil and criminal cases that violate federal law. The Eastern District has three active judges, all of which can assign tasks to magistrate judges that serve either four- or eight-year terms.
  • The Western District of Washington – The Western District federal court in the state of Washington has jurisdiction in the western half of the state, which includes counties like King, Skagit, and Clallam. This court deals with civil and criminal cases that violate federal law. There are currently two active judges both of which can assign magistrate judges duties.

Appeals from both district courts go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Judges who sit on the federal courts in the state are nominated by the president of the United States and confirmed via a vote by the United States Senate.

The federal court system in the state also has two bankruptcy courts, each operating in the same district as their federal courts mentioned above. This court deals with all cases that involve bankruptcy cases in the state that violate federal law.

How to find electronic court records in Washington?

The state of Washington made public records legal years ago with help from the Washington Public Records Act. Any member of the public may request records and obtain them so long as they are public and not sealed. Some court records in the state are sealed, though most cases deal with a minor child or they deal with sensitive information that could be harmful to the individual or the state.

There are a few ways to obtain records, one of which is to visit the Washington State Courts' website. Here, those interested can look for information about court cases in Washington by searching for either the case number, the names of the parties involved, or the names of the attorneys that defended the case.

Another way that interested parties can find court records is by visiting the court in which the case was heard, visiting the clerk's office to find more information. Choosing this way, the documents requested will need to be known along with information that will help clerks look up the specific cases.