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Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Court secrecy: Privacy rights best determined by the Legislature

The Seattle Times provided a good discussion regarding the litigants in state court proceedings who seek to keep their identities from public disclosure [“Open-court issues in the spotlight with state Supreme Court ruling,” Opinion, July 27].  As The Times noted, the state Supreme Court arrived at the correct decision regarding the Burien tenants who wanted to have their names removed from court records.

It was not an easy decision.  The tenants were defendants in an eviction case.  They did not choose to be in the lawsuit, and were in the right.  They now face difficulty in finding landlords willing to rent to them, given their names in the court records.

As The Times mentioned, privacy rights like these are best determined by the legislative branch.  The Legislature has authorized the vacating of criminal convictions in certain circumstances.  It might pass similar legislation authorizing redaction of tenants’ names in unsuccessful unlawful detainer proceedings.

We as the public also have a responsibility to recognize that sometimes individuals end up in litigation, and that does not necessarily make them untrustworthy people.  No one wants to be party to a lawsuit, but it can happen.  We ought to recognize that reality.

David Voyles, Seattle

Comments | More in courts | Topics: court secrecy, David Voyles, Legislature

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