Justice Wiggins Announces Retirement from Supreme Court

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Charles K. Wiggins, 72, has announced his intention to retire from the Washington Supreme Court effective March 31, 2020.

First elected to the Court in 2010, Wiggins announced his decision to colleagues Thursday morning. He followed up with a letter to Governor Jay Inslee, informing the Governor of his decision to retire.

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve on the Supreme Court for the past decade. However, I wish to spend more time with my wife, Nancy, and our family. Thus, the time has come for me to step down, opening the way for a new justice.” 

Wiggins grew up the son of a career warrant officer and was an Eagle Scout. He attended Princeton University on an ROTC scholarship, graduating magna cum laude. He then served in the Army Military Intelligence Corps for four years, rising to the rank of Captain and earning his Masters of Business Administration in night school. He attended Duke Law School with help from the G.I. Bill and was admitted to the bar in 1976.

In private practice, Wiggins was a partner with the firm of Edwards, Sieh, Wiggins & Hathaway, where he focused primarily on appeals, both civil and criminal, in the State Supreme Court, the State Court of Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and once as co-counsel in the United States Supreme Court.  He also tried cases throughout Washington State. Later he established the firm of Wiggins & Masters PLLC on Bainbridge Island handling exclusively appellate cases. Notably during his time in private practice, Justice Wiggins represented 27 former justices from 19 different states including Washington and filed an amicus curiae brief in support of petitioner Hugh Caperton in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., 556 U.S. 868 (2009).

In addition to his service on the Supreme Court, he served as a judge on Division Two of the Washington Court of Appeals and as a pro tem superior court judge in a number of cases in King and Jefferson Counties and as a pro tem district court judge in Kitsap County.  

Wiggins has served on several Supreme Court committees including the budget, appellate education, Centennial of the Temple of Justice and court rules committees. He also served on the state’s Board for Judicial Administration, and chaired Washington’s 2013 update of the Civil Legal Needs Study.

He served as president-elect, president, and past president of the Washington Chapter of the American Judicature Society, working to help educate the public about judicial elections and to improve judicial elections generally. He also worked with a coalition of lawyers, bar associations and government groups to establish the nonpartisan award-winning website VotingforJudges.org.  

In October 2018, Wiggins joined the majority when the court abolished the state’s death penalty in the opinion State v. Gregory.

A new justice will be appointed by Governor Inslee to fulfill the remainder of his term on Supreme Court position 6.