Category: News & Updates

Legal Aid for Indigent Tenants Facing Evictions

The passage of SB 5160 charged the Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA) with developing a plan to implement Washington State’s first-in-the-Nation program to provide no-cost legal representation for indigent tenants facing evictions.  OCLA has met the challenge and presented its plan to the Legislature ahead of its 90-day deadline.  The plan will bring to life Washington State’s historic Right to Counsel law.  It gives priority to those counties where evictions happen most frequently and will enable over 60 Right to Counsel (RTC) attorneys to provide full-time defense for qualified tenants.  Read more about the presentation of the plan here.  Tenants who are threatened with eviction should contact the Eviction Defense Screening Line at 855-657-8387 or apply on-line at https://nwjustice.org/apply-online.

Form Packet for Making a Motion in a Civil Case

If you have a civil case in King County Superior Court and need to ask your assigned judge to do something, this packet may be very helpful.  It has instructions and forms for submitting a motion (the way you ask the court to do something) and a proposed order (the thing that you’re asking the court to do).

This is NOT meant for family law cases or for presentation to the Ex Parte Department.

You can order the packet from our website HERE.

The Library can be contacted at (206) 477-1305 or Services@KCLL.org

GAO Reports Servicemembers Risk Losing Rights

The Government Accountability Office recently reported that servicemembers are at risk of losing valuable rights and protections granted to them by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)  Businesses may ask servicemembers to waive certain rights granted by the SCRA.  Servicemembers are often unaware that they are doing so or have little understanding of the long-term effects.  The rights servicemembers can inadvertently waive include the right to terminate motor vehicle leases early, the right to stay the enforcement of civil court proceedings, and protections against foreclosure.

See a summary of the GAO report here.

See the full GAO report here.

For more information about the report, contact GAO Director Tranchau (Kris) T. Nguyen at (202) 512-7215 or nguyentt@gao.gov

Unpaid Tickets No Longer Grounds for License Suspension

Unpaid traffic fines will no longer be used as grounds for suspending a person’s driver’s license.  Not only that, but licenses that are already suspended – due to fines or a failure to appear for a noncriminal moving violation – will be reinstated.  This moratorium stems from a recent Thurston County court case that led to negotiations between the ACLU and the State of Washington.

The moratorium will be in place until SB 5226 takes effect in 2023 – which will still allow suspensions for failing to appear in court.

You can read the full article from the Seattle Times HERE.

 

From the Director: May 2021

Keeping Up with COVID

Barbara Engstrom, Executive Director King County Law Library

 

The language describing the mitigation measures used to counteract the pandemic would imply this past year has been one of stasis. (Lockdown, suspension of services, closures to the public)  If anything, the rapidity of change during this period has been unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes.  Even as we begin to reach vaccination benchmarks, the churn of new statutes, court rules, opinions, and other norms continue apace.  Keeping abreast of this constant flux of information can be daunting.  Fortunately, there are several great resources that aggregate legal information related to COViD.  The following are some resources available either online or via the King County Law Library that can help you stay informed.

Landlord Tenant

Perhaps the area of law that has seen the greatest change is landlord tenant.  Stoel Rives has produced a regularly updated guide to track the changes to state, federal and local rules related to the eviction moratoria.  The most recent version is current as of March 9, 2021 and is 19 pages of densely packed information detailing the dates and consequences of the various rules and orders along with references to litigation filed in response. The current version can be found here https://www.stoel.com/legal-insights/legal-updates/covid-19-update-stoel-rives-guide-to-washington-st   KIng County has information on the Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program here including access to the EPRAP portal for both landlords and tenants.  https://kingcounty.gov/depts/community-human-services/COVID/eviction-prevention-rent-assistance.aspx  The Northwest Justice Project’s Washington Law Help website has information regarding eviction and tenant’s right geared for non-attorneys with videos and informational guides and a summary of the new 2021 legislation in an easy to digest infographics https://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/issues/health/coronavirus-covid-19#content

Consumer Law

The National Consumer Law Center’s (NCLC) Digital Library has a running list of current awareness articles under New Developments on their homepage.  These timely articles cover many COVID related consumer law issues and link to treatises in the KCLL’s NCLC digital collection.  Some recent examples include: Consumer Law Implications of the American Recovery Plan Act, Cheat Sheet to COVID-19 Bankruptcy Provisions and Sunsets, Protecting Wages, Benefits, and Bank Accounts from Judgment Creditors, Homeowner Right During COVID Pandemic, and Essential Reading for FDCPA Practitioners. The NCLC Digital Library is available for remote access via the law library’s Remote Databases link. https://kcll.org/remote-databases/

Aggregate Resources

Our newest acquisition for remote access, the Cheetah Database from Wolters Kluwer, has COVID related current awareness information for an array of practice areas. The tax materials include 2020 Tax Legislation: Law, Explanation & Analysis, CCH Tax Briefings and Federal Tax Day with emerging information on executive and congressional branch activity along with IRS letter rulings and technical advice memoranda.   Labor & Employment resources include the Family and Medical Leave Guide, the Employee Benefits Newsletter and the Unemployment/ Social Security Newsletter.  The Cheetah COVID database also has white papers and a news aggregator for the breaking COVID related legal news.

In addition to current awareness resources, the Wolters Kluwer database also includes access to the following eBooks:  Bromberg & Ribstein on Partnership, Drafting Limited Liability Company Operating Agreements, Drafting Prenuptial Agreements, Drunk Driving Defense, Elder Law Answer Book, Elder Law Forms Manual, Employee Dismissal Law & Practice, Law of Lawyering, Law of Restitution, Motions Practice, Scott and Ascher on Trusts, and Special Needs Trust Handbook.

Another very helpful COVID related legal news source is available from Law360.  Normally Law360 requires a subscription, but Lexis is providing free access to their coronavirus coverage.  This includes news stories and expert analysis.  You can find the Law360 coronavirus coverage here. https://www.law360.com/coronavirus

The Coronavirus Legal Daily (CLD)is an offshoot of Lex Blog, the legal blog aggregator.  You’ll find new posts featured daily under the topic areas of employment & labor, health care, corporate & commercial and administrative law.  There is also a continually updated list of the latest blog posts.  You can access the Coronavirus Legal Daily at https://www.coronaviruslegaldaily.com/

For the academic perspective, Jurist (a project from the University of Pittsburg School of Law in collaboration with other law schools to create and make publicly available high-quality legal news and analysis resources) created a COVID-19 Special Coverage page that features legal news and analysis from the United States and world-wide. This is an excellent resource for understanding foreign and international law perspectives. https://www.jurist.org/covid-coverage/

WSBA & KCBA

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the wealth of very practical information available on both the WSBA and KCBA’s Coronvirus webpages.  The WSBA’s coronavirus information can be found here. https://wsba.org/for-legal-professionals/member-support/covid-19 and the KCBA’s coronavirus information can be found here. https://www.kcba.org/For-Lawyers/COVID-19-Resources

King County Law Library

As always, the law library is here to help if you want more information on any of the resources listed.  We are happy to work with you either in person at the Seattle or Kent Branches or remotely via email or video reference.  Come by or drop us an email at services@kcll.org   Keep an eye on our website the latest on our hours of operation and information on our newest resources. www.kcll.org

Important Changes to Landlord Tenant Laws

The Washington Legislature recently passed a number of important changes to the state’s landlord-tenant laws (generally, at RCW 59.18).  These changes include things like standards for rent repayment plans (as long as the state eviction moratorium is in effect), help for low-income tenants to get legal assistance, support for Eviction Resolution Pilot Programs and a prohibition against “no cause” evictions.

 

The Northwest Justice Project has put together a very good summary of the changes HERE.

Information about King County’s Eviction Resolution Program can be found HERE.

You can find a link to an Eviction Defense Helper HERE.

Behind on Rent? King County Announces New Assistance

Low income residents of King County who are behind on their rent can now apply for a new assistance program.  Recipients will be selected in a weekly lottery-style drawing and can can receive up to 12 months of total rent – including up to three months of future rent.  To qualify for the aid, applicants must be experiencing COVID-related hardships and housing instability.

You can read the entire Seattle Times article HERE.

Renters can apply for the help here: https://rent-help.kingcounty.gov/

White House Fights to Increase Access to Legal Aid

Having legal representation can make all the difference in the world – from keeping someone in their home, to securing proper citizenship status, to protecting people against consumer fraud.  This week, the White House announced that it was reinvigorating federal efforts to provide that critical aid – including a request of $1.5 billion in funding for state and local justice systems.

 

You can read the White House announcement HERE.

The Associated Press story can be read HERE.

 

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.