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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 2, 2014 at 8:05 AM

Open courts: Protect tenants over public-records dogma

The Times’ recent praise of a state Supreme Court decision that effectively prohibits redaction of innocent tenants’ names from an online court index was misguided [“Open-court issues in the spotlight,” Opinion, July 26]. Two faultless tenants have an eviction lawsuit filing on their permanent records even though the lawsuit against them was dismissed as baseless.

Unfortunately, eviction lawsuits — even if wrongful — are easily accessible public records, and landlords often decline housing to people with eviction filings, regardless of the lawsuits’ outcomes. The Supreme Court’s decision prohibiting redaction of the tenants’ names from the index effectively eliminates housing options for innocent families, while serving no legitimate public interest.

When the principle of open access to public records becomes blind dogma, the goal of justice is subverted. The Supreme Court has eliminated the only remedy available to innocent tenants wrongfully sued for eviction.

Leona Bratz, Todd Hubbard, Benjamin Haslam, Housing Justice Project, Everett

Comments | More in State Supreme Court | Topics: Benjamin Haslam, Housing Justice Project, Leona Bratz

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