Charles W. Johnson

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This page is about the Washington Supreme Court justice. If you are looking for another judge named "Charles Johnson," please see: Charles Johnson.

Charles W. Johnson
Court Information:
Washington State Supreme Court
Title:   Justice
Salary:  $168,000
Active:   1991-2021
Past position:   Attorney in private practice
Past term:   1976-1991
Personal History
Undergraduate:   University of Washington, 1974
Law School:   Seattle University School of Law, 1976
Candidate 2014:
Candidate for:  Supreme Court
Position:  Position 4
State:  Washington
Election information 2014:
Incumbent:  Yes
Election date:  11/4/2014
Election vote:  73.3%ApprovedA

Charles W. Johnson is an associate justice of the Washington Supreme Court. He was first elected in January 1991 and is now the most senior justice on the court.[1] He was most recently re-elected by voters in 2014, winning a six-year term that expires on January 3, 2021.[2][3]

2014 election

See also: Washington judicial elections, 2014
Johnson ran for re-election to the Washington Supreme Court.
General: He defeated Eddie Yoon in the general election on November 4, 2014, receiving 73.3 percent of the vote.[2]


Johnson received his bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in 1974 and his J.D. from the Seattle University School of Law in 1976.[4]


After graduating from law school, Johnson went into private practice. In 1991, he was elected to the Washington Supreme Court. He also acts as an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law.[1]

Awards and associations


  • 2012: Recipient, John J. McAulay Legal Educator Award[5]


  • Member, Washington State Bar Association
  • Member, Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association
  • Member, American Inns of Court
  • Member, World Affairs Council
  • Former member, Board of Directors, Washington Association for Children and Parents
  • Former co-chairman, Washington State Minority and Justice Commission
  • Former member, Washington State Limited Practice Board
  • Former Chairman, Task Force on Equal Civil Justice Funding[4]

Past elections


Candidate IncumbentSeatPrimary %Election %
Charles W. Johnson ApprovedA YesPosition #459.2%100%
James Beecher NoPosition #430.4%
Frank Vulliet NoPosition #410.4%



Candidate IncumbentSeatPrimary %Election %
Charles W. Johnson ApprovedA Position #440.8%54.6%
Pamela Loginsky Position #436.7%45.4%
Doug Shafer Position #422.4%


Campaign finance

In the 2002 race for the Washington Supreme Court, Charles Johnson raised $114,363.[9]

For a breakdown of money raised, click Follow the Money, "Charles Johnson".


Candidate IncumbentSeatPrimary %Election %
Charles W. Johnson ApprovedA Position #346.9%62.2%
Douglas J. Smith Position #334.2%37.8 percent
Barnett N. Kalikow Position #318.7%


Notable cases

Marijuana odor in vehicle

Johnson wrote the majority opinion for a unanimous decision in July 2008 determining that police cannot arrest passengers for riding in a car that smells like marijuana. The decision, "Our cases have strongly and rightfully protected our constitution's protection of individual privacy. The protections... do not fade away or disappear within the confines of an automobile. We hold that the smell of marijuana in the general area where an individual is located is insufficient, without more, to support probable cause for arrest. Where no other evidence exists linking the passenger to any criminal activity, an arrest of the passenger on the suspicion of possession of illegal substances, and any subsequent searches, is invalid and an unconstitutional invasion of that individual's right to privacy."[11] reads

Dissent on freedom of information

On May 13, 2004, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision that the attorney-client privilege is greater than the "Public Disclosure Act." Chief Justice Gerry Alexander wrote for the majority that the legislature "created the exemption when it amended the disclosure law, which makes most government documents available to the public, in 1987." Johnson wrote in the dissent that the decision "renders ineffectual the (law's) strong mandate to agencies that they must disclose public information," and that the law applies to lawyers, not governmental agencies. His dissent was signed by Justices Barbara Madsen, Richard Sanders and Tom Chambers.[12]

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Johnson received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of -1.16, indicating a liberal ideological leaning. This is more liberal than the average CF score of -0.91 that justices received in Washington. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[13]

See also

External links


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