Served: Monday, January 10th, 2005 to PresentJustice James M. Johnson was elected to the Supreme Court in 2004. He is a life-long Washingtonian, born in Seattle and attending Ingraham High School. Justice Johnson graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in economics and obtained his J.D. from the University of Washington.
He spent two years in the United States Army as chief of Administrative Services for the Ninth Infantry Division, including serving as that Division’s Top Secret control officer and Dive Team commander before joining the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
Justice Johnson next spent 20 years serving as a Washington State Assistant Attorney General, heading first the Fish and Wildlife Division and later the Special Litigation Division with responsibility for legal services to 25 state agencies and for major litigation involving the state. Of highest priority were elections-related and constitutional cases, many of which went to the Washington or United States Supreme Court. During that time he was national affairs liaison to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG), as well as a contributing editor for that Association’s American Indian Law Deskbook.
Upon leaving the Attorney General’s Office in 1993, Justice Johnson enjoyed a successful private practice in Olympia, where he practiced until his election to the Supreme Court. His private practice specialized in major litigation involving constitutional law, notably many of the important Initiative cases. Throughout his legal career, Justice Johnson has argued nearly 100 appellate cases in three different federal Courts of Appeal, the Washington Supreme Court and Washington Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
Justice Johnson and his wife Kathleen live in Olympia. They have two daughters, Heather Swanson is in the teaching profession and Stephanie is part of the team producing news for a national network. One skill from the Army he still enjoys is scuba diving, and he and the family have traveled much of the world. His other hobbies include sailing and racing, fishing, hunting, and the opera.
[Source: Washington Courts, http://www.courts.wa.gov/, last visited August 17, 2008]