Served: Monday, January 8th, 1996 to Thursday, January 6th, 2011Justice Richard B. Sanders was first elected to the Supreme Court by special election in 1995. In 1998 he was reelected to serve a second term of six years, and in November 2004 he was reelected to serve a third term. During his 26 years of legal practice prior to becoming a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sanders tried several hundred cases at virtually every level of the court system and litigated more than 100 appeals (no fewer than 60 of which resulted in published opinions). Since coming to the Supreme Court he has become one of its most prolific writers and is recognized for his published opinions.
As a private practitioner he championed the civil rights of his clients and still regards protection of our constitutionally guaranteed liberties as the first duty of our highest court. Justice Sanders believes the court must protect all the legal rights of all the citizens who come before it all the time. “We have no second class citizens,” he adds. His special interest is the Washington State Constitution and often quotes his favorite passage: “[G]overnments . . . are established to protect and maintain individual rights.” Const. art. I, § 1.
Justice Sanders is a native of Tacoma and spent the best years of his childhood there. He moved to Seattle where he graduated from Highline High School. While there he was elected president of his high school debate club, and he earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Justice Sanders received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Washington after participating in the political science honors program and playing in the Rose Bowl. He thereafter earned his J.D. in 1969 from the University of Washington School of Law. While at the University, Justice Sanders wrote “The Devil’s Advocate,” a weekly column of opinion in The Daily, the student newspaper.
Since taking his seat on the Supreme Court, Justice Sanders has served as an adjunct professor teaching appellate advocacy at the UW School of Law; has written articles for professional journals; and has presented lectures to legal and civic organizations on diverse topics including civil liberties, land use, the Washington State Constitution, legal ethics, and Abraham Lincoln, among others.
Justice Sanders enjoys inviting students and community groups to tour the Temple of Justice and to visit with him. He is the father of Laura Sanders, who is enthusiastic in all her endeavors and is the light of her daddy’s life.
[Source: Washington Courts, http://www.courts.wa.gov/, last visited August 17, 2008]