The National Consumer Law Center has published a very useful article describing the twelve most significant changes to the laws and rules governing repaying or canceling student loan debt. You can also access additional digital content from NCLC, including their publication titled Student Loan Law, directly from King County Law Library’s website here
Category: News & Updates
Affordable Connectivity Program — Help for Internet Costs
Washington State’s Health Care Authority administers an FCC program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP is designed to make it cheaper for some Washington households to get high-speed Internet access. If your household qualifies, you can get up to $30/month off of Internet connectivity charges and a one-time $100 discount off the purchase price of a laptop, tablet or desktop computer. Only one monthly service discount and one device discount is allowed per qualifying household. The Biden Administration has also secured commitments from some Internet service providers to offer high-speed plans covered completely by funding from the ACP. To learn if you qualify, simply visit the Affordable Connectivity Program’s site here or go to GetInternet.gov and complete the online application.
ACLU WA’s The Future of Abortion in Washington Discussion Available Again
In May 2022, ACLU of Washington sponsored a pre-Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization discussion about abortion and reproductive rights. The speakers included Dr. Erin Berry, Washington State Medical Director, Kia Guarino, Executive Director of Pro-Choice Washington, Miranda Varags, board member of Northwest Abortion Access Fund, and Leah Rutman, Health Care and Liberty Counsel, ACLU-WA. The program was moderated by ACLU-WA Executive Director, Michele Storms. ACLU-WA has made a recording of this discussion available again and encourages you to watch again or attend for the time.
Protection Order Forms and Process Changes
WashingtonLawHelp.org has a new guide that helps explain the numerous changes made to Washington State’s protection order forms and process in June 2022. For example, you can now use a single petition to file for a protection order if you have encountered domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking. Some types of protection orders, such as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, still require a separate petition. Read the new WaLawHelp protection order guide here. Current forms for all protection order types can be found beneath the Protection Orders drop-down here.
Ross’ Ref Q’s – Common carriers
WE GET A LOT OF REFERENCE QUESTIONS AT THE KING COUNTY LAW LIBRARY.
THE REFRAIN GOES THAT BECAUSE WE AREN’T PRACTICING ATTORNEYS, WE CAN’T OFFER LEGAL ADVICE—AS LIBRARIANS, WE CAN ONLY OFFER RESOURCES.
THAT SAID, SOME QUESTIONS ARE VERY INTERESTING & INSPIRE ME TO DO SOME RESEARCH OF MY OWN, COLLECTED HERE IN THIS COLUMN. DON’T CONSTRUE THIS AS LEGAL ADVICE!
Welcome back to Ross’ Ref Q’s. We had a bye month in July, and to get the Ref Q wheels turning once again, August’s Q is… something of a nothingburger. Instead of highlighting interesting reference strategies, this Q allows me to ruminate on the limits of human capacity and the nature of regret. No, I’m not fun at parties.
The question came from who I assumed was an attorney-type:
Who is defined as a common carrier “passenger” in Washington?
My little knowledge of common carriers comes from reading about the political movement to treat internet providers as common carriers. What they are are essentially logistic companies responsible for transporting goods or services and that are available to the public. Operating as a common carrier opens you up to certain liabilities, because you’re establishing a duty to your passengers or payloads.
Which is enough of a background to ask, well, who is considered a passenger?
The question came in a month or two ago, and I’m unable to faithfully replicate the information search on which I embarked. I know that I opened up Westlaw and therein the digital version of Washington Practice, as I typically do, and I believe I tried using the search box for “common carrier” in the Civil Procedure and Elements of an Action volumes. Why these? I believe the patron suggested Elements of an Action, which I latched onto. Civil Procedure was probably just force of habit. These aren’t an apt fit though, in hindsight, and as such they returned no results. At that point, I think I was flustered and backed away from state-specific resources, and instead retrieved the CJS volume that dealt with common carriers, and sure enough there was a section on what constitutes a passenger. Resource: found. Mission: accomplished-ish.
Returning to the question to see if there was enough meat for this column, I searched all of Washington Practice off the bat, not specific volumes and found… many, many relevant sections: Pattern jury instructions for what constitutes a common carrier passenger in Washington. Lengthy sections in the Torts volume that deal with this very question. How did I miss these? CJS is fine, but these are state-specific and I mean, literal jury instructions (ie plain English statutory heuristics). The Torts volume itself would have ably answered his question, or even the Methods of Practice volume. How did I miss all of this?
I don’t know why I didn’t search more broadly in Washington Practice. And now, months removed, I can’t recall any factors that may have affected me: Was it busy? I don’t remember a line. Was the user impatient? It’s possible, but usually such dispositions don’t influence my work, or I like to think that they don’t. Was I distracted, or was there cause for underperformance? Well, my toddler started daycare in May, and I’ve been sick and harried for most of the time since, which I don’t like to posit- but even so, I routinely locate resources without fail.
It seems to come down to the fact that I’m human and made a mistake, whatever the cause. I don’t consider myself a perfectionist, but even a slight error like this seems to haunt me. Part of it is the ramifications of law librarianship- what if I gave a similarly off base resource to a pro se patron? What if someone relied on an authority I provided, which led to their complete and utter ruin?
That would suck for sure. But I have to remind myself I can only do my best, and admit that in my position, I’m more likely to help someone starting off than ruin someone’s long fought progress – if I were able to knock their action into disarray, as a public librarian, it is likely the situation was tenuous and likely to fall into disarray anyway. Or, that’s what I tell myself to push forward.
But there is some research strategy to be gleaned. Fairly obviously, it helps to start with a wide net, then narrow your focus as you go. In this case, starting a search in Westlaw for the Q in all of Washington Practice would have yielded a book in hand within a minute or so. This is true for other databases and physical resources as well- don’t commit yourself to a single chapter if you aren’t certain it’s what you need.
With that, a related consideration barely worth dwelling on is that I’m sure I latched onto Elements of an Action because the user suggested it. I almost never recommend that volume because there’s usually a better fit, so I suppose the user’s suggestion carried additional weight. I wonder if they hadn’t suggested it, would I have performed a general search off the bat? I can’t say, but it’s worth considering that past experience, that of a user or our own experience, shouldn’t constrain our strategy and should be taken with a small grain of salt. Again, keeping an information search more general off the bat is preferred, because, in this situation, a general search of Washington Practice would have displayed chapters from Elements of an Action anyway, if they existed.
There’s also the matter of defining good enough. From what I recall, the attorney was grateful for the CJS chapter and carried on his way. If the user was happy, it’s possible that resource was “good enough.” I should smile more.
Join us next month for another great Ref Q—hopefully one less suited to my depressive inclinations. シ
Worst WA Supreme Court Decisions? There’s A List for That
Times change. And so do sensibilities and values. So not all legal decisions age as well as one might have expected. Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Gonzalez has created a list of some decisions that should be (or already have been) changed.
You can see the entire list and read the explanations in the Seattle Times article found HERE.
Preparing to Take the LSAT?
One of the ways that the King County Bar Association is working to improve the quality of legal representation in the area is by helping deserving legal students with the cost of licensure. In addition to a limited number of application grants, KCBA is partnering with no less that four commercial vendors to provide some applicants with tuition grants for test-prep courses.
More information and application forms can be found HERE.
Resources for Addressing Digital Harassment
The spread of technology into so many areas of our lives has opened up new avenues for harassing behavior. From “cyber-stalking” to “revenge porn,” there are a number of things that we can do to fight back – but where to start? Here are a few very helpful resources:
CYBER CIVIL RIGHTS LEGAL PROJECT – connects victims of nonconsensual pornography with legal assistance – locally, nationally and even outside of the United States.
CLINIC TO END TECH ABUSE (CETA) – helps abuse survivors understand how technology can be manipulated to harm them and what steps they can take to prevent it.
NATIONAL NETWORK TO END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (NNEDV) – provides an online toolkit to help domestic violence survivors navigate the technological dimension of abuse.
NEW BEGINNINGS – offers a wide variety of resources to help those who have faced domestic abuse.
ON DEMAND WEBINAR: Remembering Japanese Incarceration and the Lies of Executive Order 9066
<< CLE Credit: 1.00 Ethics >>
Filmmaker Jon Osaki’s documentary “Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066” takes an in-depth look at the legal rationale and evidence that undergirded the issuance of Executive Order 9066, which led to the wartime incarceration of almost 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, and Korematsu v. United States (1944), the subsequent U.S. Supreme Court Case which upheld its constitutionality. Using historical footage, documents, and interviews, Alternative Facts covers the forces and players that brought E.O. 9066 into being, the work of researchers who uncovered evidence unmasking the manipulated record submitted to the Supreme Court in Korematsu, and the work of the attorneys pursuing coram nobis cases to vacate the convictions of Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Minoru Yasui.
After a screening of Alternative Facts, Serin Ngai, of Sound Family Solutions, PLLC, will lead a panel discussion with filmmaker Jon Osaki, King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Patrick Oishi, and Lori Bannai, Professor Emeritus, Seattle University School of Law, and Director Emeritus of the law school’s Korematsu Center. Professor Bannai was also an attorney on the legal team that won vacation of Mr. Korematsu’s wartime conviction. The panel will discuss the role of attorneys and the judiciary in Korematsu case, how these issues continue to impact the current legal and political climate, and how lawyers and judges can respond.
Article: Seattle’s Eviction Moratorium Has Ended
The City of Seattle has ended its moratorium on payment-related evictions. This Seattle Times article provides a good update on the landscape that local renters may now be facing and also mentions a number of related resources.
You can read the article HERE.