black-big.pngYesterday, Thursday 2011.01.13 at 10:00, the House Judiciary Committee opened session in House Hearing Room A in the O’Brien Building. House Judiciary Chairman, Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D) of the 43rd District presided. Vice Chairman, and friend from the University Rotary Club, Rep. Roger Goodman (D) of the 45th Legislative District, assisted the Chair by calling for testimony. HB 1026, the newly proposed adverse possession bill, was called second. After introduction by a committee attorney, the HB 1026 lead sponser, Rep. Christine Rolfes (D) presented her testimony. Most notably, she indicated that she may be amenable to allowing the prevailing party to pay costs and reasonable attorney’s fees instead of requiring the party claiming adverse possession to pay even in cases in which the adverse possessor prevails. Good!

Then three individuals, two of which related more personal accounts, and End Adverse Possession Now’s Chris McKie testified for the bill as written. Afterwards, two individuals, one representing the title insurance industry and Craig Ritchie, City Attorney of Sequim testified against adoption of the bill. Finally, Michael A. Barrett of Perkins Coie representing the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) and I made qualified recomendations for the adoption of the bill.

The WSBA expressed a quible with HB 1026’s burden of proof language. Mr. Barrett suggested that the term “cogent” be inserted between “clear and convincing” for the purposes of consistency with other case law. Note though, that the forest lands statute RCW 7.28.085, aka the Weyerhaeuser Statute, does not use “cogent” either. Whether this would have much effect I will not continue to pixelate.

Notably, the WSBA also spoke of the need to alter costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to cover the prevailing party, as opposed to the title holder in all events. As a result, it seems reasonable to expect that this will be modified before the Judiciary Committee votes to releases the bill to the House Rules Committee.

I then had the opportunity to testify. I will fully express my intended comments in Part