NJP News | Volume 1 | Issue 1
Dear Friend, 
 

I am very pleased to share our first newsletter, welcome to NJP News!  

 

Every month we'll share the story of one or two families whose lives are better because of legal assistance and representation provided by NJP. We will also share news about the many ways our work impacts the well-being of communities across Washington.

 

Recently, NJP helped "Tim," who for years suffered at the hands of his abusive father. After being reunited with his mother, Tim began to miss school. The abuse had caused him to become depressed and he was suffering from PTSD. He was skipping school because he was afraid his father might show up and hurt him again. The school district filed a truancy petition to try to make him attend school. Tim and his Mom sought NJP's help. We filed an application with the court to dismiss the truancy petition and within 24 hours of receiving it the school dismissed the petition. Tim is now attending school online and able to focus on his education and treatment. 

 


Consumer Rights Victory for Low-Income Tenants

 
A recent NJP case makes clear that tenants can hold credit reporting companies accountable when their failure to provide the tenant with tenant screening reports in a timely manner results in the tenant not being able to rent the apartment of their choice. Brian Handlin, a disabled veteran, his wife, and their child had to move when their building was set for demolition. They found a very nice complex, but after paying their application and credit report fees, the complex rejected them, citing a low "rental score" and a negative recommendation from a tenant-screening company. The Handlins asked to see their screening reports and the basis for the low rental scores -- information they were entitled to receive under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The information would have allowed the Handlins to correct the record, but the tenant screening company withheld the disclosures for so long the Handlins gave up and were forced to move into a less desirable apartment.

 

With NJP's help, the Handlins sued the credit reporting company for breaking the law and to stop it from doing the same to other tenants. NJP appealed when the trial court dismissed the case because it did not consider the failure to provide the Handlins copies of the screening reports an "injury to business or property" under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The Court of Appeals ruled that the failure to make the disclosures required by FCRA does constitute such an injury. The appellate court reinstated the case, which allows the Handlins to pursue an injunction to stop the tenant-screening company from withholding reports from other apartment-seekers in the future. The court of appeals ruling will make it easier for families, like the Handlins, to correct tenant-screening reports and not be unfairly rejected from an apartment of their choice. NJP King County attorney Eric Dunn is representing the Handlin family. 

 



Veterans Resource Website Launched
 

NJP's Veterans Project has launched an interactive legal information resource for Washington veterans and advocates working to assist veterans: RepWaVets.org.

The website is the culmination of a two-year collaboration between NJP, Fenwick & West LLP, and Microsoft, which have also generously supported Leo Flor, an Equal Justice Works Fellow focused on civil legal aid services in Veteran Treatment Courts. The website is based on NJP's
Representing Washington Veterans (2012) manual, written by Mr. Flor and recognized as the essential resource on the legal and cultural basics for representing veterans in Washington. We thank Fenwick & West LLP and Microsoft for their generous support of legal aid services for veterans and for helping to make this valuable resource for veterans a reality.   

 

Award-Winning Impact

Deborah Perluss, NJP Director of Advocacy and General Counsel, has been selected to receive the Award for Special Contributions to the Judiciary, to be presented by the King County Washington Women Lawyers on June 15, 2015. Debi is being recognized for her outstanding contributions to making our justice system more accessible to all, regardless of economic status. Congratulations Debi for this recognition of your critically important work furthering access to justice!

 


NJP works to address the impact of poverty on individuals and low-income communities across Washington by providing free legal advice and representation to resolve serious legal problems involving access to health care or education, protection from domestic violence, and affordable housing and foreclosure, among others.


Please share NJP news with your friends and colleagues. Learn more about our work by contacting Kelly Oswald, Interim Development Director, find us on Facebook, and visit our website where you can sign up for our email list and also find our annual reports: www.nwjustice.org.

 

Sincerely, 

CÚsar E. Torres
Executive Director