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Charles Johnson

Distinguished Jurist in Residence

 Sullivan Hall 313


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WA State Constitutional Law


  • B.A., University of Washington, 1974
  • J.D., University of Puget Sound (now Seattle University) School of Law, 1976


Justice Charles W. Johnson was elected to the Washington State Supreme Court in January 1991. He won reelection for a second term in 1996, and a third term in 2002. He is now the most senior justice on the court, and Associate Chief Justice. Justice Johnson was born in Tacoma. He attended Curtis High School, and graduated from the University of Washington in 1974. While working full-time in a Tacoma lumber mill, he attended the University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University School of Law) graduating in 1976.

Justice Johnson is the first graduate of the Seattle University School of Law to reach the Washington Supreme Court. He remains active in the law school's activities, participating in moot court competitions and clinical exercises. He is a distinguished justist in residence, teaching a comprehensive seminar on the state constitution. In 1998, in conjunction with the Seattle University Law Review, Justice Johnson authored a comprehensive update on Washington search and seizure law.

Justice Johnson participates generously in law-related, professional, and other community activities, including Board of Directors of the Washington Association for Children and Parents; the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission (co-chair); the Washington State Limited Practice Board (Supreme Court liaison), and the Task Force on Equal Civil Justice Funding (chair). He chairs the Court's Rules Committee and is a member of its Administrative, Budget and Personnel Committees. Justice Johnson is a member of the American Inns of Court and the World Affairs Council. In October 2002, he received a special commendation from the Washington State Bar Association Committee on Legal Services to the Armed Forces for his outstanding service and contribution to the Armed Forces stationed in Washington State by originating and promoting a new court rule allowing military lawyers not licensed in Washington to provide in-court representation to eligible low income service members.

Justice Johnson is a second generation lawyer. His father practiced law for over 60 years in Pierce County. Justice Johnson opened his own law practice in 1977, representing clients in nearly every area of criminal and civil litigation. He has been a member of the Washington State and Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Associations since 1977.