Washington Law Review


The empirical data presented in this note were derived from studies conducted over a period of several months by members of the Washington Law Review. The most important project in terms of time and resource allocation was a study of 187 randomly selected case files taken from Seattle District Justice Court. The results of this study are reproduced in the Appendix. Three other studies were undertaken, consisting of telephone surveys of selected groups of collectors, employers, and union representatives. The results of these are not reproduced in tabulated form but the more significant data are set out in the text and footnotes to this note. In addition to these surveys, interviews were conducted with employers, union leaders, judges, lenders, attorneys, collection agency representatives, and staff members of the Washington State Attorney General's Office and of the Legal Services Division of the Office of Economic Opportunity. It is hoped that the information derived from this research and the conclusions based thereon will provide concerned legislators with a beginning point for an informed review of Washington's garnishment provisions. This note follows a topical approach. The statutory framework of wage garnishment in Washington is set forth at the outset, followed by an analysis of the use of the remedy by creditors. A third section of the note is concerned with the employer's role in the process; the fourth section with the problems of debtors. Sections dealing with the possible impact of restrictions on wage garnishment upon credit and with possible judicial restrictions on abuses in the system serve to highlight further the manifold problems presented by the existing wage garnishment process. Finally, specific recommendations for legislative reform are proposed.

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