Inform, Entertain, Inspire
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Law students host clinic to help seal past evictions

St. Joseph County Courthouse
St. Joseph County Courthouse

It can be tough to get approved for rental housing with an eviction on your record. Notre Dame Law School students are spreading the word about a relatively new way to seal past evictions from public view.

While it still won’t be confused for a tenant-friendly state, Indiana in 2022 enacted a law allowing evictions to be sealed from public view. As long as a court has not entered a monetary judgment for rent or physical damages to the property and the case has been dismissed, the tenant can file a motion to seal the eviction case.

But a study of St. Joseph County eviction cases last year found that courts only informed tenants of the potential option 14% of the time. That needs to change, says attorney David Pruitt, director of the Notre Dame Law School’s Clinical Law Center.

"The problem is then you're relying on people like the Notre Dame Clinical Law Center or Indiana Legal Services, or other word of mouth, to get that word out," Pruitt said. "It is an access to justice type of issue, I think. The way we're handling this doesn't make a lot of sense."

That study, by law school professor emeritus Judy Fox, concluded that judges should be required to inform tenants of the law. Fox also said evictions should be automatically sealed if the right conditions are met.

On Saturday, April 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Notre Dame law students will host a free clinic at the Portage School of Leaders. They’ll help people determine if their evictions are eligible to be sealed, and they’ll offer help with current evictions pending.

It’s an issue that’s becoming more relevant in the county, where evictions have surpassed pre-Covid averages two of the past three months.

Parrott, a longtime public radio fan, comes to WVPE with about 25 years of journalism experience at newspapers in Indiana and Michigan, including 13 years at The South Bend Tribune. He and Kristi live in Granger and have two children currently attending Indiana University in Bloomington. In his free time he enjoys fixing up their home, following his favorite college and professional sports teams, and watching TV (yes that's an acceptable hobby).