On July 7, 2022, Kaplan Hecker & Fink attorneys filed an amicus brief at the Washington State Court of Appeals in The Civil Survival Project v. The State of Washington. The brief was filed behalf of two clients: the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law & Liberty and the ACLU of Washington. 

In February 2021, the Washington Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a state law creating strict liability for certain felony drug possession offenses in State v. Blake. In so doing, it highlighted the immense racial disparities that the law had inflicted. The State has since retained legal financial obligations (LFOs) from funds previously paid to the state in consequence of original criminal convictions, to which it has no legitimate legal entitlement. The Superior Court held that every single Blake-affected person must file an individual case seeking redress. 

Our brief examines why that view is both wrong and unjust: wrong because it fails to recognize the availability of a civil restitutionary remedy that can be litigated in a class action proceeding, and unjust because it disregards the presumption of innocence and the racial disparities that will result if every affected person is forced by law to file their own separate case. “Mandating individualized Criminal Rule 7.8 motions will lead to the certainty that many people in Washington will never receive what Blake promised—and that the inequalities identified in Blake are perpetuated.”

Kaplan Hecker partner Joshua Matz, counsel Amit Vora, and associate Alysha Naik contributed to the brief, which can be read in full here.