Month: March 2021

From the Director: March 2021

Let the Law Library be Your Alexa

Barbara Engstrom, Executive Director, King County Law Library

Imagine having a remote assistant like Alexa but focused squarely on helping you with your legal practice. As a subscriber to the King County Law Library, you essentially have your very own virtual legal assistant at the touch of your phone or computer. Need a case from Westlaw, a section from a WSBA Deskbook or an annotated code section? We can quickly provide what you need. What about jury verdicts or Keyciting? We’ve got you covered. Do you have a thorny legal issue and would like to try out some searches on Westlaw? With our video reference, we can screen share databases like Westlaw or the WSBA Deskbooks and work interactively with you to run customized searches and share links in real time.

The law library can even go Alexa one better. If you are short on time or legal research resources and need someone to do your research for you, we can make that happen too. With our Let Us Do Your Research service you can hand off your search query and leave the heavy lifting to our experienced research staff. As you might guess, having what amounts to an on-demand, low-cost research assistant who comes armed with tens of thousands of dollars of legal research resources has been very popular. We have many very happy repeat customers for this service.

If it’s been a few years since you’ve been a part of the subscriber program, you should take a look at all the new services and benefits we added for subscribers in the past few years. Our goal is to make it as easy and convenient for you to use the law library services as possible, even if you prefer not to come to one of our physical locations. Here’s a quick overview of $100 per year gets you as a subscriber.

Remote Access to Lexis Digital eBook Collection

With our newest member benefit, subscribers get remote access to our eBook collection. The digital library includes all the Matthew Bender and Lexis treatises from our print collection including gold standard, multi-volume treatises such as Corbin on Contracts and Powell on Real Property.

Within the larger collection we’ve carved out a special Washington Practitioner Collection which includes all our Washington specific content in once convenient place. Included in the collection are: Employment in Washington: A Guide to Employment Laws, Regulations and Practice; Washington Business Entities: Laws and Forms; Washington Guardianship Law: Administration and Litigation; Washington Insurance Law; and Washington Law of Evidence among others. The LexisNexis Practice Guides, including: Washington Pretrial Civil Procedure, Washington Trial and Post-Trial Civil Procedure, and Washington Criminal Law, are also available. In addition to the practice sets, we also have the Annotated Revised Code of Washington and the Washington Court Rules Annotated available for remote checkout.

For those of you who, like me, are big fans of the KCBA Washington Lawyer’s Practice Manual, it is available for remote checkout by chapter for your convenience. Lexis Digital has recently acquired the WSBA Deskbooks and those will be available for remote checkout shortly too.

As one of our subscribers recently said:

I cannot tell you how incredibly helpful the Lexis Digital Library access has been over the past month. I have had to do a significant amount of research and I found everything that I needed as well as forms. Research and writing has always been the best part of my job as an attorney and this makes it so much easier for me to do both efficiently.

Let Us Do Your Research

For those times when you are running out of bandwidth and could use a helping hand, subscribers can take advantage of our Let Us Do Your Research service. As I noted earlier, for solo and small firm attorneys, it’s like having an on-demand, low-cost research assistant who comes armed with tens of thousands of dollars of legal research resources.

Subscribers submit research projects to us through our website. The first fifteen minutes of research is free as our staff reviews the request and determines: 1) if the question(s) fall within the scope of our expertise and our information resources; and 2) if we can meet the request deadline. Once we determine that the question meets these parameters, the subscriber decides if it makes sense to use the service and how much time she would like us to spend. The current rate for approved Let Us Do Your Research projects is $100 per hour, charged in 15-minute increments. Our researchers will limit the amount of time spent on the question to the predetermined amount. If the question takes less time than projected, we only charge for the time spent on the project. Subscribers receive a detailed research memo that includes references to the resources used, summaries of relevant caselaw as well as the full text of cases relied on in the research memo. This service is available only to subscribers.

Here’s what some of our Let Us Do Your Research service users have said:

I presented a fairly complicated question and didn’t want to spend my time down the rabbit hole. I wanted a pro to help me avoid the hours I would have taken to get to first base. I got a call a day after I sent the question from a gentleman who asked perfect questions and engaged in a fruitful and interesting back and forth on the issue. Three days later I got a clearly written road map memo that got me where I needed and then some. Overall great experience. Thank you, money well spent.

Very helpful! The problem with being an older attorney sometimes is I forget about other potential legal avenues I might pursue. In this case your research reminded me of Restatement of Judgments 2nd which gave me an excellent argument to hopefully defeat collateral estoppel

This is great and exactly what I was hoping for. As a solo practitioner who has zero staff, this type of assistance is invaluable. Thank you, again!

5 Free Document Deliveries Per Month

Subscribers get 5 free document deliveries per month. This can be a case, a section of a treatise, a law review article, or any other document we have in our collection. We’ll shoot you a copy of the requested material over email. For non-subscribers, document deliveries cost $25 per document.

Discounted Conference Room Reservations

We know that coming to the courthouse can be stressful in the best of times and is even more so in the middle of this pandemic. Many of you appreciate having a private, quiet place to use as a base of

operations during trial or to strategize over the lunch break. Law library subscribers get discounted rates on the use of the law library’s conference rooms.

The rate for subscribers is $20/hr and for non-subscribers is $35/hr. Reservations are generally for the lunch period which runs from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. or all day which runs from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Conference rooms tend to book up quickly and once trials resume more fully, we expect this to be the case. Be sure to plan well in advance if you would like to reserve a conference room.

“Curbside” Book Checkout

Subscribers who prefer to research with print materials can take advantage of our “curbside” book checkout. You’ll notice the scare quotes around the word curbside. Our curbside pick-up and drop-off will occur, not on Third Avenue, but on the 6th floor in the rotunda space just outside the law library entrance in Seattle. Subscribers wishing to drop off or pick up materials can schedule an appointment in advance to arrange a time. Appointments will be staggered to create a minimum amount of time spent in proximity to others.

All returned items will be quarantined for 36 hours before they are allowed to return to active inventory. The catalog will be updated to indicate which items are in quarantine and when they will become available to check out.

Your Law Library Alexa Awaits

Become a subscriber to take full advantage of all that the law library has to offer. Your virtual legal assistant is standing by waiting to help you make the most of your time spent on legal research. To find out more about any of these subscriber services go to https://kcll.org/services/subscribe/ As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions to services@kcll.org

A New Tool for Tracking Felony Cases in King County

The King County Prosecutor’s Office has launched an online dashboard that lets you track important data bout the felony cases that they’re pursuing.  The tool is an effort to offer more transparency around the number and types of cases being brought in the County – and how it’s being affected by the pandemic.

You can view the dashboard HERE.

You can read and listen to the the full story HERE.

What Do I Need to File?

In order to initiate a lawsuit, you must file the original version of the following documents with the Court Clerk: 

These documents must be filed with the clerk’s office before they may be served on the judge and the opposing party. 

Visit the King County Superior Court Clerk’s website: https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/clerk.aspx

 

What is Service of Process?

 

Service of Process Definition: 

    1. Giving court papers to the other party. 
    2. The formal delivery of a writ, summons, or other legal process, pleading, or notice to a litigant or other party interested in litigation; the legal communication of a judicial process (e.g., service by mail). 
    3. The official delivery of legal documents to opposing attorneys or parties. 

“Service of process” refers to providing the opposing party (or parties) with a copy of the Summons, Complaint, and Case Schedule Order. Service of process is governed by CR 4 and RCW 4.28.080.100. 

In order to complete service of process, you must serve a conformed copy of the following documents on the opposing party: 

    • Summons 
    • Complaint 
    • Order setting Case Schedule (also know as the Case Schedule Order) 

The Summons and Complaint shall be served together. 

In Washington, you must always serve the opposing party in-person. The state of Washington requires personal service of the Summons, Complaint, and Case Schedule Order. 

In order to complete service of process, you must file a Proof of Personal Service form with the Court Clerk after you perform service of the documents listed above. 

 

If the defendant is a corporation 

If the defendant is a corporation or a company, the Summons, Complaint, and Case Schedule Order must be served on the “registered agent.” 

    • Frequently, a member of the company’s Board of Directors is the designated registered agent. They are usually served at the company’s address during  business hours. 
    • You can find registered agents and their office addresses by searching for the Corporation or Company name on the Washington Secretary of State Corporations website: https://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/. 

 

Who Can Serve 

Any competent person over the age of 18 who is not a party to the lawsuit (i.e. a third party) may serve process upon the opposing party. 

    • This means that you cannot provide service to the opposing party yourself, but you can get a friend to complete service. 
    • You may also hire a process server. 
    • For a fee, the Sheriff’s Civil Unit for the county in which you file your complaint will execute service of legal documents by the sheriff or sheriff’s deputy. Find information about service of process by the King County Sheriff’s Department here. 

 

Proof of Service 

You must provide proof of service to the court. 

    • If the sheriff serves process for you, the sheriff will complete and return the “Service Contact Information Sheet” to you. You must provide this form to the Sheriff’s office when you hire them to serve legal documents. You can find this form here. When service is complete and the form is returned to you, you must then file it with the Clerk’s Office. 
    • If a third party, such as a friend, serves process, you must have the person who served the legal documents sign and date a Proof of Personal Service form, return that completed form to you, and then you must file it with the Clerk’s Office.

 

 

 

What is a Complaint?

What is a Complaint?

    1. The first legal document filed in a civil lawsuit.
    2. The initial pleading that starts a civil action and states the basis for the court’s jurisdiction, the basis of the plaintiff’s claim, and the demand for relief.

It includes a statement of wrong or harm done to a plaintiff by the defendant and a request for a specific remedy from the court.

In family law cases, the complaint is called a petition.

The Complaint generally does not go into great detail, but only gives basic information about the alleged wrongdoing. Under CR 8(a), the only requirement for a Complaint is that it must contain: 

    1. A short and plain statement of the claim showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief, and 
    2. A demand for judgment for the relief claimed. 

CR 8(a) adds that relief in the alternative, or of several different types, may be demanded. Attachments or Exhibits can be included with the Complaint. 

What is a Summons?

What is a Summons?

    1. The document that informs the Defendant: (1) that a suit has been brought against him or her AND (b) when the Answer must be filed. 
    2. A writ or process commencing the Plaintiff’s action and requiring the Defendant to appear and Answer. 

The Summons notifies the Defendant(s) that a suit has been brought against them and sets forth when the Defendant’s Answer must be made. Notification is part of due process. 

    • The content of the Summons for personal service is specified by CR 4 (civil cases generally) and CR 4.1 (family law proceedings). 
    • See also CR 8 on the form and content of the Summons pleading. 

The Plaintiff must serve the Defendant with a copy of the Summons and Complaint within ninety (90) days of the date of filing with the Clerk’s Office. The statute of limitations is tolled at ninety (90) days from the date of filing with the court. See RCW 4.16.170; Jones v. Stebbins, 122 Wn.2d 471, 860 P.2d 1009 (1993); Martin v. Triol, 121 Wn.2d 135, 847 P.2d 471 (1993). 

For a Summons personally served in Washington, the specified response time is twenty (20) days from the date of receipt; the Defendant has twenty (20) days from the date of receipt to reply in the form of a Notice of Appearance or Answer. CR 12. 

For a Summons served outside the state of Washington, the specified response time is 60 days. CR 12 and RCW 4.28.180. 

    • However, if a nonresident defendant has appointed a registered agent to receive service of process in Washington, and the registered agent is served in Washington, the response time is 20 days, not 60 days. CR 12. 
    • Out-of-state corporations and many other entities doing business in Washington are required to name a registered agent for service of process in Washington. 

When service is by publication, the statutes require a special form of Summons with a response time of 60 days from the date of first publication. CR 12 and RCW 4.28.110. 

Summonses, Proof of Service, and related documents require standardized forms.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

In an increasingly online world, identity theft has become a greater risk for all of us.  In fact, just recently the personal information of 1.4 million Washingtonians was stolen from a state computer vendor.

An article from the Washington State Law Library lays out some helpful steps that you can take if you think your information was compromised or if you think that someone is actively using your identity.

You can read the full article HERE.