Washington Supreme Court to Visit Gonzaga University

In its first traveling court visit since 2020, the justices of the Washington Supreme Court will visit undergraduate and law school classes at Gonzaga University, hold an open public forum and hear arguments on real cases during a community visit to Spokane on October 5-6, 2022.

The public is invited to observe the justices hear arguments in three appeals cases on October 6th at the University. Each case involves roughly an hour of arguments by attorneys and will be followed by a question-and-answer session after the morning and afternoon sessions.

Chief Justice Steven C. González and Associate Justices Charles Johnson, Barbara Madsen, Susan Owens, Debra Stephens, Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Mary Yu, Raquel Montoya-Lewis and G. Helen Whitener will hear the following cases in the Barbieri Courtroom beginning at 9 a.m.:

* No. 100668-3 and 100690-0, Detention of AC, NG & CM. The State has the authority, as codified in the Involuntary Treatment Act, (ITA) ch. 71.05 RCW, to involuntarily detain a person suffering from a behavioral health disorder for evaluation and treatment. Two people were involuntarily detained under the ITA at Western State Hospital for more than a month after the court orders authorizing their continued civil commitment had expired. Another was involuntarily medicated before a court hearing despite asserting her statutory right not to be. All three sought to have the ITA petitions dismissed on the grounds that the requirements of the act were completely disregarded. Should they be dismissed? [Companion to case 2, In re Det. of DH].

* No. 200716-7: Detention of DH. (1) Should this Involuntary Treatment Act petition be dismissed because the state held DH longer than authorized by law? (2) The trial judge failed to advise DH that he would lose his firearm rights if he did not voluntarily seek treatment. DH challenged this for the first time on appeal. Is this challenge waived?

The court will reconvene at 1:30 p.m. to hear the last case of the day:

* No. 100676-4, WSCCE v. City of Spokane. Under a recent amendment to Spokane’s city charter, the city’s negotiations with public employee unions must be open to the public. (1) Given that this amendment has not yet been applied, is a challenge justiciable? (2) Does the Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act occupy the field so as to preempt the amendment? (3) Does the amendment otherwise violate article XI, section 11 of the State Constitution?

For more than a decade, the Supreme Court has heard cases “on the road” three times a year to help citizens to see the court in action in their local communities. Though cameras and video recorders are generally allowed, the Court asks that no flash, other lights or noisy film advance mechanisms be used during the hearings. Oral arguments will be taped for broadcast at a later date on TVW, Washington’s Public Affairs network or can be viewed online at www.tvw.org.


About the Supreme Court

The state’s “court of last resort” is asked to review more than a thousand cases each year. Most come from the state Court of Appeals, though cases can be appealed directly from Superior Court.

In the Supreme Court, no witnesses are called or other evidence taken. Rather, the Court hears only legal issues, and decides the case based on the factual record developed in the trial court.

The Court has discretion in deciding which cases to review. In a case already decided by the Court of Appeals, the Court will generally grant review only if it involves a question which has given rise to conflicting appellate court decisions, an important constitutional question, or a question of substantial public importance. Direct review of Superior Court decisions is granted in limited circumstances.

During each four month session the Court hears oral argument in approximately 45 cases. Responsibility for authoring opinions is distributed equally among the justices. At least five of the nine Justices have to agree to decide a case. Frequently, justices write opinions which concur (agree) with or dissent (disagree) from the majority opinion. The Court’s opinions are published by Mathew Bender & Company, Inc. (LexisNexis), and are available, for a fee, to the public or can be read in the State and/or County Law Libraries at no cost.

Learn about the history of the Washington State Supreme Court.