Justice Debra Stephens has won a conservative group’s designation as the “most influential” justice on the Washington state Supreme Court in 2010. Go here for Michael Reitz's post on the Supreme Court of Washington Blog.Stephens joined the court in an appointment by Gov. Chris Gregoire effective Jan. 1, 2008, and since won re-election without an opponent. Reitz, who is an attorney with the right-of-center Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Olympia, follows the court and says Stephens has emerged as a pivotal vote on the nine-member court led by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen:
In just three years, Stephens proven to be a prolific author and a frequent representative of the court’s thinking. In 2010, she wrote more majority decisions (23) than any other justice. Stephens also wrote the most unanimous opinions last year (13). She voted in the majority in 91.9% of cases decided, second only to Justice Charles Johnson, who was in the majority 92.4% of the time. Stephens enjoyed a high rate of agreement with her colleagues, with other justices voting with her position in 81% of cases—just a fraction behind Charles Johnson (81.5%). Perhaps the most significant factor is that Stephens is a key vote in close decisions. In 2010, the Supreme Court issued 22 decisions that were decided by a 5-4 vote. Stephens wrote the most 5-4 majority opinions (6), and had the most majority votes (15) in 5-4 cases. She was in the majority a whopping 75% in 5-4 cases (Justices Tom Chambers and Charles Johnson were both a distant second at 64%).