An emergency order from King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jim Rogers has postponed all residential eviction cases until March 30.
Following Seattle and Burien’s emergency bans on rent-related residential evictions during the COVID-19 crisis, Rogers wrote in his order that the cities’ legislation “creates a patchwork of procedures and stays that will create great confusion for the parties in these cases.”
As a result, starting Wednesday, all hearings, motions and trials on residential eviction cases are on hold until the end of the month, Rogers’ order reads, when the court will set new procedures for these cases. Commercial eviction filings, however, will continue as usual.
On Monday, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht had announced that officers would not serve and enforce eviction notices “until we are confident the threat of COVID-19 has dissipated.”
“This is no time to be putting vulnerable people and families on the street without shelter,” Johanknecht said in a news release.
Housing advocates had been urging the court to suspend eviction cases last week as sick people continued to show up to court, said Edmund Witter, senior managing attorney at the King County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project.
“It should have been done a long time ago,” Witter said of Rogers’ emergency order. “Even though we showed them the numbers, that people weren’t showing up or when they did show up they were sick and clustered into small spaces, the court just acted like they didn’t have a responsibility.”
Last week, Kentucky’s state courts postponed most hearings for a month to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
On Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an another emergency order banning evictions of small businesses and nonprofits that are also suffering under the strain from the virus.
Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced a statewide moratorium on rent-related residential evictions, along with a slew of other measures, to prevent people from losing their homes as the pandemic continues to batter people’s paychecks.