NJP News | Volume 1 | Issue 5

Emergency Appeal Halts Incarceration for Failure to Pay LFOs in Columbia County
NJP-Pasco filed an emergency appeal on behalf of a disabled homeless woman who was jailed by the Columbia County District Court for "willful nonpayment" of Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs).  "Ellen" became homeless after the manufactured home park she lived and worked in closed down.  An epileptic, suffering from daily seizures, she is awaiting a decision on her application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits.  As a result of two minor offenses that occurred after she became homeless, she was assessed $2,000 in discretionary (i.e. ability to pay) fines and charges.  Because Ellen could not make the payments, she was incarcerated. 

As a result of NJP's emergency appeal, the Superior Court stayed the order of confinement and issued a temporary restraint halting the imprisonment for non-payment of LFOs of persons in Columbia County who qualify as indigent under GR 34!  A full hearing on the appeal is scheduled for December, at which time NJP will ask the Superior Court to make the injunction permanent.


Statewide Driver's Relicensing Presentation to Washington Supreme Court
For people in poverty, the lack of a driver license is a huge barrier to finding and holding onto a job. NJP's representation of hundreds of clients has made clear that the present system for restoring a driver's license is unworkable. Today, more than 375,000 Washington drivers have their licenses suspended for failure to pay infractions. 

At Chief Justice Madsen's invitation, NJP provided the Washington Supreme Court with an in-depth presentation on the need for, and possible contours of, a statewide relicensing system. Karen Campbell (NJP-Vancouver Senior Attorney) arranged and facilitated presentations from Eric Dunn (NJP-Seattle), the Oregon statewide relicensing program, and the very successful Spokane program. The Justices, joined by key stakeholders and judges from across the state, engaged in broad-ranging discussions about development of a statewide relicensing program.


National Pro Bono Week
During Pro Bono Week, October 25-31, 2015, NJP recognized our many volunteers working around the state by sharing some of their work and background with all staff.  One of the standout volunteers we wish to recognize is Chris Swartz who has been supporting the work of the Foreclosure Consequences Advocacy Team since August 2014.  He has also successfully represented numerous clients in vacating improperly entered judgments, beaten back creditor and landlord motions for summary judgment, and motions to dismiss in cases involving the rights of homeowners. 

success is all the more impressive because many of these cases involved challenging foreclosure and property-related issues with little or no precedent.  Most recently, Chris saved a client's home in a judicial foreclosure initiated by a Home Owners Association. The judge agreed with Chris's argument that the HOA's recorded notice that the homestead protection did not apply was insufficient to deprive the homeowner of the homestead protections of RCW 6.13.080(6) and denied the HOA's motion to foreclose.
Northwest Justice Project Celebrates 20th Anniversary...

For two decades NJP has been securing justice and transforming
the lives of people in poverty in Washington 
State.  On October 23rd Alliance for Equal Justice colleagues, legal community and judiciary supporters, and NJP staff from across the state gathered to celebrate NJP's 20th Anniversary.  Chief Justice Barbara Madsen spoke of the importance of NJP's founding as Washington's courageous response to the challenges facing legal services programs across the country in 1995, and also praised NJP's current achievements on behalf of people in poverty.

NJP's creation was a client-centered response to ensure that all of Washington's poorest communities would continue to have meaningful access to justice despite a challenging funding environment.  Founders Pat ('Mac') McIntyre, Sue Encherman (current NJP Director of Administration), and Joan Kleinberg (current NJP Director of Strategic Initiatives) recounted the early challenges on the way to launching CLEAR, and laying the foundation for NJP and today's delivery system.  (Pictures for the 20th Anniversary Event available here).

Fellowship Established in Honor of 
Pillar of Equal Justice Steve Fredrickson!

NJP honored Steve Fredrickson, a Washington legal aid icon, for his 45 years of service advancing the housing and economic rights of people in poverty, mentoring generations of dedicated legal aid advocates, and furthering equal justice in Washington.  On November 12, colleagues from across the years and across the country turned out to celebrate and to raise a toast to Steve's legacy.  Long-time colleague, and Tacoma Housing Authority Executive Director Michael Mirra, provided a stirring commemoration and presented Steve with a personalized plaque enrolling him into the halls of "the Great, the Grand and the Good."  NJP Director of Advocacy Deborah Perluss unveiled the NJP Steve Fredrickson Fellowship to honor Steve's vision of civil legal aid by supporting the next generation of legal aid advocates to follow in his footsteps.  (Pictures for the Pillar of Justice Event available here).
To learn more about our work contact Bryan Baker, Director of Development, like us on Facebook, and visit our website where you can access our annual reports and explore more of NJP. Also, please share NJP News with your friends and colleagues so they can join NJP in helping make equal justice a reality in Washington.
From all of us at NJP, best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving.


CÚsar E. Torres
Executive Director