Category: News & Updates

Job Announcement: Outreach Services Associate

The King County Law Library is pleased to announce that it’s accepting applications for the new and very exciting position of Outreach Services Associate. This is a unique opportunity to put your creativity to work in the service of broadening the public’s understanding of our legal system.  In addition to providing excellent reference service to our patrons, we’re looking for someone who can help us design and implement innovative forms of outreach.  Put your imagination and love of public service to work with us!

Please read the complete posting here.

 

New Full-Service Clinic for LGBTQ Parental Rights

The QLaw Foundation of Washington is sponsoring a new, free, full-representation legal clinic called Family Matters to help LGBTQ families get legal orders affirming their legal parental relationships to the children they are raising.

Assistance will be provided by both attorneys and social workers and will vary in length depending on the family’s needs.  LGBTQ families living anywhere in King County are eligible to apply.  All services provided by Family Matters are free of charge.

To request help, you can complete the online registration form here or send an email to info@qlawfoundation.org indicating your family would like help from the Family Matters clinic.

Notice Loophole a Scary Prospect for Month-to-Month Tenants

According to a recent article in CrosscutLegislators passed eviction protections. Washington landlords found loopholes — a new provision in the recently-revised Residential Landlord-Tenant Act may prove to be a scary prospect for month-to-month tenants.

RCW 59.18.410(3)(d) states:

“A  tenant  who  has  been  served  with  three  or  more  notices to pay or vacate for failure to pay rent as set forth in RCW 59.12.040 within twelve months prior to the notice to pay or vacate upon which the proceeding  is  based  may  not  seek  relief  under  this  subsection (3).”

On its face, this subsection would appear to undo many of the new tenant protections put in place by the Washington Legislature.  Crosscut asserts that landlords across the state have started serving pay-or-vacate notices the day after rent becomes due, often in situations where tenants have been accustomed to a short grace period.  That grace period can be important for low-income tenants relying on the arrival of Social Security or other social services’ payments.  Tenants who receive three such notices in a 12-month period, regardless of having made their rent payments, would not be able to take advantage of the other protections provided in RCW 59.18.410(3).

The text of ESSB 5600, as signed by the Governor, is here.

New Hope for Clearing Criminal Conviction Records

The New Hope Act (Chapter 331 of the Laws of 2019) became effective on July 28, 2019 and makes substantial changes to the rights and procedures for clearing criminal misdemeanor and felony conviction records in Washington State.

Among these changes are improved notice requirements for the Department of Corrections and the clerk of the court; the ability to vacate Assault in the second degree, Assault in the third degree when not committed against a law enforcement or peace officer, and Robbery in the second degree under specific circumstances; and the removal of restrictions based on prior vacations and the modification of restrictions based on prior restraining/protection orders.

For instructions and forms related to these new provisions, visit the New Hope Act portion of the Civil Survival web site.

Legal Help for Veterans

Recognizing that the legal process can be confusing and intimidating, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office has an a program called the Office of Military and Veteran Legal Assistance which helps active service members and veterans find legal assistance programs.

The Office’s web site includes links to legal assistance events aimed at veterans, a register of Washington State and national legal service providers and programs, and a nation-wide index to legal assistance programs.  The site also includes a link for attorneys who wish to volunteer to assistance veterans with civil legal issues.

KCLL Wins National Award for Outreach

The Workshops

We launched Civil Lawsuits Without Tears in March of 2018. It was the first workshop in our then new Self-Represented Litigants (SRL) Workshop series. That series now includes three civil procedure workshops, four family law workshops, a small business law workshop and a power of attorney workshop. Plans for a landlord/tenant workshop are in the works.

When we made that first launch we were confident we had created a new, practical, and sustainable mechanism for helping the self-represented litigants we work with become better prepared for their day in court. It was “new” for several reasons. It leveraged partnerships with volunteers from the local bar and the LLLT community, local public libraries like SPL and KCLS, and other community centers. It married face-to-face classroom instruction with follow-up content support on our website. It brought instruction out to where the self-represented litigants live and work in surroundings they are more familiar with. It was “practical” because KCLL staff worked closely with our volunteer instructors to choose content that was focused on the specific areas of civil procedure that most often confound self-represented litigants. It was “sustainable” because the load or weight of content development, instruction, and marketing was spread across all partners.

We had also hoped that workshop attendees would find the content understandable and immediately useful; that they would appreciate being able to attend the workshops in the local libraries or community centers they were already familiar with, and that access to the blank forms and research links on our custom SRL workshop website would continue to provide support down the litigation road.

To date, over 400 self-represented litigants have attended at least one of the workshops. We are hard at work searching for additional volunteer attorneys to help us develop and present relevant content and have plans for expanding the number of public library branches at which the workshops are hosted. Feedback from attendees has been very positive and they often return to KCLL for further research help.

The Award

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is a nation-wide professional association for law librarians who practice in pubic, academic and private firm law libraries. AALL sponsors a number of juried awards that recognize outstanding achievement in various aspects of law library management and services. This year, AALL added a new award called the Excellence in Community Engagement Award. This award focuses on community engagement and public relations and was created to “ …recognize and acknowledge outstanding contributions achieved by the Association’s members in raising the visibility of the profession and its Association.” In February of this year, LeighAnne Thompson and Stephanie Wilson from the Seattle University School of Law Library nominated our Self-Represented Litigants Workshop series. In March, we were overjoyed to receive this communication from Sally Holterhoff, chair of AALL’s Excellence in Community Engagement Award Jury:

“…your library’s Self-Represented Litigant (SRL) Workshops have been selected as one of two recipients of an inaugural AALL Excellence in Community Engagement Award. Congratulations on this honor. Our jury felt that your project does an outstanding job of reaching people in your community at their point of need with practical information. With these workshops, you are involving the legal and library communities in partnering to address the information needs of self-represented litigants and to help them successfully navigate the legal system.”

Many Thanks

We are very grateful to our SRL workshop partners, without whose help the workshop series would not have been possible. KCLL is indebted to the following individuals and organizations for their contributions to the workshop series and is excited to continue the collaboration to support and improve the education of self-represented litigants in King County:

  • Jeff Cowan, Esq.
  • Anthony Gibbs of Moceri Law Group, PLLC
  • Debbie Williams, Esq
  • McKean Evans of Pivotal Law Group
  • Stephanie Wilson, LeighAnne Thompson of the Seattle University School of Law
  • The law student volunteers of the Seattle University School of Law Access to Justice program
  • David Witus, Esq.
  • Jennifer Ortega of Legal Technician Division, PLLC
  • Sarah Bove of Legal Technician Division, PLLC
  • Valerie Wonder and Nika Pratsitsilpsiri of the Seattle Public Library
  • Jose Garcia and Andy Wickens and the staff of the  Kent branch of the King County Library System
  • Julia Gibson and the staff of the Shoreline branch of the King County Library System
  • Maria Arcorace and the staff of the Burien branch of the King County Library System
  • Mason Wiley of the U. Heights Community Center

If you are interested in learning more about our workshops – or the possibility of facilitating them, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us here or  call us at (206) 477-1305.

Preparing for Your Neighborhood Clinic Visit

The King County Bar Association, sponsor of the Neighborhood Legal Clinics, has posted a useful checklist for preparing to attend a session at one of their legal clinics.  To make the best use of your time please:

1. Decide on the desired outcome or goal.
2. Schedule an appointment at a Neighborhood Legal Clinic.
3. Write a list of specific questions for the attorney.
4. Bring to the clinic appointment:

–Agreements or contracts (signed or proposed)
–Written rules or policies
–Court orders
–Court papers served on you or that you filed with the court
–All letters or emails to and from person or business with whom you have the disagreement
–Specific paperwork related to the case. For example, employee handbook, parenting plan, child support order, protection order, lease, rental agreement

5. Organize any paperwork from most recent on the top to oldest at the bottom.
6. Identify all deadlines.
7. Tell the legal clinic volunteer about these deadlines.

Remember you only have 30 minutes. Be prepared to tell the history of the legal issue to the legal clinic volunteer.

If your legal issue is vacating your criminal record please bring your Washington Access to Criminal History report.

Responding to a Petition for Visits

The Northwest Justice Project, via its self-help site WashingtonLawHelp.org, has released a new guide to help custodial parents respond to a petition from a third-party–such as a grandparent or another relative–for visitation rights.  It’s titled You Have Been Served with a Petition for Visits and includes a complete set of instructions and forms.  Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to read through the information in two related NJP guides: Which Court can Enter Custody Orders? Questions and Answers about Jurisdiction –which will help you understand how to determine if a Washington court has the right to consider a petition for visitation–and Washington’s New Non-Parent Visitation Rights –which provides a general overview of our State’s Non-Parent Visitation Rights law.

Debt Collection Laws in Washington Make It Easy for Collectors

An in-depth article in the Seattle Times takes a look the laws and rules that permit collections firms to make life painful for debtors in Washington State.  With the addition of court-sanctioned fees and the highest post-judgment interest rates in the county, lawmakers are finally taking another look the industry.

The Library hosts a Debt Defense Clinic that is put on by the Northwest Justice Project.

A lot of helpful information can also be found on the WashingtonLawHelp.org website.