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ACLU, KC Tenants sue Jackson County judge over eviction policies

Posted at 10:40 AM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 19:51:21-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The presiding judge of the Jackson County, Missouri, Circuit Court is facing a federal lawsuit over a dispute about the county’s eviction policies.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Jackson County Circuit Court Presiding Judge David Byrn, alleging that by allowing eviction processes to proceed, the county is violating an administrative order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That order, which went into effect on Sept. 4, put a federal moratorium on evictions.

A press release announcing the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the KC Tenants group, says the county is violating tenants’ due process rights by allowing landlords to pursue evictions.

Stacey Johnson-Cosby, president of KC Regional Housing Alliance, spoke out on behalf of landlords, saying they shouldn't be on the hook for fixing the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19.

"The government stopped the economy and a lot of people lost their jobs because of it," Johnson-Cosby said. "The burden has switched to private property owners to fix it."

Johnson-Cosby said many landlords are also facing economic hardships due to COVID-19. She said the way to prevent evictions is for the government to provide financial assistance to renters.

"The government broke it," Cosby said. "They need to fix it."

41 Action News reached out to Judge Byrn. A spokesperson said the circuit court will not comment on pending litigation.