February 11, 2009
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ACLU of Washington submitted an amicus brief in support of a domestic violence survivor who sought to substitute her initials for her full name in an eviction court record, arguing that protecting the privacy of a domestic violence survivor outweighs the public interest in access to unredacted records. The ACLU brief points out that the law authorizes redaction (editing) of court records when "privacy or safety concerns are compelling." The brief explains that domestic violence survivors become homeless not only because of their abuse but also because of discrimination by landlords based on their status as victims. Further, protecting the survivors' identities affords them more safety from further abuse. Finally, if domestic violence survivors know their safety and chances for finding new housing will be jeopardized because their names are left on an eviction record, they may be forced to acquiesce to discriminatory eviction or to remain in a dangerous situation with an abuser. The brief was submitted by the ACLU on behalf of the ACLU, the Northwest Women's Law Center, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Legal Momentum, the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, the National Housing Law Project, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and the Sexual Violence Law Center.