2017 Changes in Seattle Municipal Code affect Deposit and Move-in fees for Seattle Renters

If you are a renter in the City of Seattle there are big changes to be aware of: The City of Seattle enacted two new subsections to the Seattle Municipal Code for 2017 involving security deposits and other move-in fees. Here are the most significant changes: The total amount of a security deposit and nonrefundable move-in fees may not exceed the amount of the first full month’s rent Other than non-refundable move-in fees, security deposits, and last month’s rent, landlords are ... [Continue Reading]

Brief Writing – Washington Style Sheet

Every attorney turns to the Bluebook at some point during their brief writing, but what about the Washington Style Sheet? If you are asking yourself what this is, then you may want to review it. The style sheet sets out specific rules of writing for Washington State. It deviates from the Bluebook in several places and, where is does, it controls.  Here are some of the deviations to keep in mind: Only spell out numbers 0-9. Always spell out “percent.” Cite to Wash. or Wn.2d; ... [Continue Reading]

ABA Says Lawyers May Passively view a Juror’s Electronic Social Media

    Formal Opinion 466 Lawyer Reviewing Jurors’ Internet Presence The AB’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility was asked to form an opinion on whether a lawyer may review a juror’s electronic social media. The Committee determined that there are three levels of lawyer review of a juror’s internet presence: passive lawyer review of a juror’s website or electronic social media (ESM) that is available without making an access request where ... [Continue Reading]

A New Scheme to Defraud Homeowners: 7th Circuit follows 9th in Holding No Specific Unanimity as to the Means

United States v. Daniel, No. 13-2399, (7th Cir. Apr. 15, 2014) When unsuspecting homeowners were told they could place their titles in trust and regain full title free and clear of any mortgage after five years, they were eager to join Rym Tehnology Holdings, LLC’s (Rymtech’s) program. As part of the program, they signed over the title of their property to straw purchasers called “A buyers” who were supposed to obtain financing from mortgage lenders to pay off the mortgage. Instead, ... [Continue Reading]

Exceptions to Public Duty Doctrine in Negligence Cases

Fabre v. Ruston, No. 43459-8-II, (Mar. 19, 2014). The issue in this case were the proprietary and special relationship exceptions to the public duty doctrine. The elements of negligence are duty, breach, causation and damages. A governmental entity is liable for damages "to the same extent as if they were a private person or corporation."   Cummins v. Lewis County, 156 Wn.2d 844, 853, 133 P.3d 459 (2006) (quoting RCW 4.96.010( 1)). However, when the defendant is a governmental agency, ... [Continue Reading]

New Seattle Ordinance Requires Landlords to Register Rental Property

  Seattle’s new Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance requires landlords to register all rental housing units, from single-family houses to large apartment buildings, and submit to an inspection.  The ordinance is being phased in this year.  There are many changes, but here are some of the highlights: Registrations must be renewed every 5 years The city is still working on setting up an online registration program, but it will be coming soon When you register, you will ... [Continue Reading]

Pay Attention to Administrative Appeal Deadlines

When practicing administrative law you must pay close attention to deadlines.  Sometime the attorney is not at fault because they did not get the case until it is too late.  McLain v. Kent School District is a perfect example.  No. 68373-0-I (Dec. 16, 2013). A school district has the right to not renew the contract for a certified teacher if there is probable cause.  RCW 28A.405.210.  When a teacher receives a notice of nonrenewal, they  may file a notice of appeal.  If they file the ... [Continue Reading]

Division III Breaks the Tie – Attorney Fees for LUPA Actions

      Attorney Fees for LUPA Actions In Gresh v. Okanogan County, No. 31394-8-III, the appellant brought an untimely LUPA claim and the court dismissed the petition.  RCW 4.84.370(1) awards fees to the "prevailing" or "substantially prevailing" party in land use litigation.  Respondent sought attorney fees because the court dismissed the petition.  Division I and II disagreed on whether “prevail” means on the ... [Continue Reading]

ER 404(b) Does Not Violate Accused’s Constitutional Right to Present a Defense

State v. Donald, No. 68429-9-I (Dec. 9, 2013) Defendant Harold Donald was charged with first degree assault and attempted robbery.  Donald’s defense at trial was that the other defendant, Lorenzo Leon, committed the crime alone.  To support this defense, Donald sought to introduce evidence of Leon’s criminal and mental health history.  The court excluded Leon’s criminal history, but allowed a limited amount of his mental health history.  The trial court admitted evidence showing ... [Continue Reading]

Trial Court May Award Separate Property in Dissolution Even if Community Property Amply Provides

    In re Marriage of Larson v. Calhoun, No. 69833-8-1 (Nov. 25, 2013) Before Larson and Calhoun were married, Larson acquired an equity interest in Microsoft and held it principally as his separate property.  The marital community exercised some Microsoft stock options during the marriage, which Larson treated as a community asset. After a trial, the court awarded Calhoun community assets worth approximately $139 million and more than $40 million of Larson’s separate ... [Continue Reading]