State Supreme Court rejects Benton County’s collection of court fees from woman’s disability payments

This Benton County case is expected to be cited by prosecutors and judges in the future when addressing a person’s present or future ability to pay.

News Story (Washington)

Kristin M. Kraemer
Tri-City Herald (WA)
September 22, 2016

Tags: Court Debt, Disability Benefits, Legal Financial Obligations

Organizations mentioned/involved: Northwest Justice Project (NJP) (WA), Columbia Legal Services (Washington State), Center for Justice (WA)


Karla Camac Carlisle, the Northwest Justice Project lead counsel on the appeal, called it “great affirmation” from the Washington Supreme Court.

She thinks the ruling will be very beneficial statewide to clients of the publicly funded legal aid program.

Lower courts in the Tri-Cities need to stop the practice of punishing people, particularly those who are disabled and poor, for their inability to pay financial obligations, and to start thoroughly taking into consideration a defendant’s situation and when they’re on a welfare program run by the federal government, she said.

“The whole problem is that we’ve got to stop funding our criminal justice system and the court system on the backs of the poor,” Camac Carlisle told the Herald.