We are celebrating the Washington Supreme Court’s decision last week in State v. Garza – a case regarding juvenile records that had moved through the courts for years. We are particularly grateful to Alex Newhouse and the Washington Appellate Project for seeing the case through twists, turns and tragedy to a successful end.
Columbia Legal Services and its partners filed a joint amicus in Garza highlighting the importance of vacating and sealing a juvenile adjudication so that people are not tied forever to mistakes they made as children. While it may not have made headlines, we are so pleased the court agreed that Washington youth have a right to vacate and seal records of their court involvement.
Sealing of records is one way to mitigate the harm young people experience and carry with them from early involvement with the criminal legal system. We hope to someday have a system of justice that supports and heals communities, rather than one that perpetuates lifelong harm against rehabilitated youth. We celebrate the Garza court’s holding and hope you take a moment to celebrate that as well.