WRP and the 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.
Ashlee Rousey lived with her child in a King County apartment rented from Indigo Real Estate Services. After several violent altercations with her former partner, Ms. Rousey called the police, who prohibited the partner from returning. When she told Indigo about the situation, the housing manager ordered her to leave. When Ms. Rousey didn't leave, Indigo filed a complaint to begin eviction proceedings in Superior Court. One week later, Indigo agreed to dismiss the case after acknowledging that it is a violation of Washington state law to evict or discriminate against a tenant because she is a victim of domestic violence.
Ms. Rousey then sought to replace her full name with her initials in the electronic court record of the eviction complaint. Because landlords using tenant-screening companies routinely deny housing applications based on the mere existence of legal complaints, Ms. Rousey wanted to avoid losing housing opportunities and future discrimination based on the dismissed complaint. In May 2008, the Superior Court denied her motion and she appealed.
The ACLU, on behalf of several housing and violence against women advocacy groups, filed an amicus brief in the case, highlighting the reasons why domestic violence in particular presents compelling privacy and safety concerns that warrant redaction of housing court records. If domestic violence survivors know their safety and chances for finding new housing will be jeopardized because their names will be left on an eviction record, they may be forced to acquiesce to discriminatory eviction or to remain in a dangerous situation with an abuser.
On August 31, 2009, the appellate court ruled in Ms. Rousey’s favor, sending the case back to the lower court for further consideration of the redaction motion.