that José and Coco were not reporting
income from tenants at the residence.
One of the children became physically
ill from the stress and José and Coco
were living in constant anxiety.
I reviewed the contract to determine
the strength of their case. It was an imperfect instrument, to say the least. For
example, the contract did not satisfy
the statute of frauds because it lacked a
proper description of the real property.
I told José and Coco that while I
could not promise we would prevail
in a lawsuit, I could promise them that
I would work as hard as I could, on
nights, over weekends, to see that they
received justice. So that’s what I did.
Fueled by a sense of moral indignation,
I came home from work every night
and researched specific performance
and real estate contracts until the doctrine permeated my dreams. We filed
our complaint against the sellers and
circled our wagons.
With the help of their bilingual cousin Cassy — José, Coco, and I met on numerous weekends to prepare our case.
As we met, Cassy discovered that José
and Coco had been duped into making
a number of double payments. Because
José would work during the day and
Coco at night, the sellers would exploit
their schedules by coming to collect
house payments twice on each due date.
After being served with the summons and complaint, the sellers retained an experienced local attorney.
We determined that our best chance
was to fly out of the gate swinging,
pursuing the case as aggressively as
possible. We pushed for entry of default when the sellers were delinquent
in answering and demanded timely
responses to our discovery requests in
order to maintain control of the litigation dynamic.
We began to wear the sellers down
with our indefatigable approach, and
about four months after we filed our
complaint, the sellers offered to give
us the deed in exchange for $2,500.
The thought of having to pay the sell-
ers more money after their inequitable
conduct inflamed Coco’s sense of fair-
ness, so I informed the sellers’ attorney
that his clients could either give Coco
and José the deed in exchange for a
dismissal of the case, or my clients
would continue to pursue the matter
up through the appeals process if need
be. They finally relented and gave us a
statutory warranty deed.
have received the opportunity to pursue
justice for José and Coco. I am also truly
honored to have received the Thomas
Neville Pro Bono Award as a result. NWL
Halverson Northwest Law Group,
in Yakima. He
can be reached at
I became a lawyer because my grandparents
were enslaved in the WWII internment camps,
locked away without a voice. It is my
mission to make sure people are heard
and their rights are protected. To me,
– LAUREN GOTCHY
Attorney at Law