Category Archives: legal

9th Circuit rules on Uber union case

While everyone was watching the Council try to decide whether to impost a head tax, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made its own news today by ruling against the city in a case regarding its ordinance granting Uber and Lyft drivers the right to collective bargaining. But buried in the ruling is a legal precedent with potentially far greater impact

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Fair Chance Housing ordinance draws its first legal challenge

This morning, two landlords and the Rental Housing Association of Washington filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court challenging the City of Seattle’s “Fair Chance Housing” tenant-protection ordinance that prohibits the use of criminal records in selecting tenants.

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DOJ threatens Seattle over sanctuary city policy

Back in January, the Department of Justice sent letters to several cities and counties, including King County, expressing concern over sanctuary city policies, demanding further documentation of existing policies, and threatening consequences if its demands are not met.  Yesterday the DOJ sent the same letter to the City of Seattle, with the same demands and threats.

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Can the city impound a homeless man’s vehicle if he is living in it?

Last Friday, King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer ruled on the case of Steven Long, a homeless man who had been living in his truck after he was evicted from his apartment because he couldn’t pay the rent. When his truck stopped running, he left it parked on a Seattle street longer than the allowed 72 hours, and after being warned about it, a few days later the city impounded it and called Lincoln Towing to take it away. Lincoln’s charge to retrieve his truck was hefty (on top of the city’s fine for exceeding the 72-hour parking restriction), and he decided to go to court over it — represented by local nonprofit legal services provider and homeless advocate Columbia Legal Services.

This case has received a fair amount of press attention this week, but it’s been difficult to report on accurately for lack of good information on the judge’s ruling. Shaffer ruled “from the bench” last Friday, and her scrawled-out written ruling basically says “what I said in court on Friday” and points to the transcript of the hearing, which hadn’t yet been produced.  That transcript finally became available this afternoon (here it is); it’s a pretty free-wheeling discussion of the case but paints a more nuanced version of the judge’s ruling than what was portrayed in the Stranger (who mostly got it right) and the Seattle Times (who got much of it wrong).

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City submits its plan for police reform “sustainability period”

Back in January, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart ruled that the City of Seattle was in “full and effective compliance” with the consent decree that it signed with the Department of Justice over police misconduct. That declaration kicked off a two-year “sustainment period” in which the city must show that it can fully implement the remainder of its plan and remain in compliance with the consent decree. Last Friday, the City submitted its plan for what will happen over the next two years.

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