San Diego Law Review

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Protective orders have been in use for many years, but only recently have they been utilized to protect the landlord during litigation with tenants. This judicial innovation developed when the Commissioners of the District of Columbia attempted to correct the deplorable housing situation by passing stringent housing regulations. These housing regulations were passed with the full sanction of the Congress and as such reflect the sentiments of Congress toward the housing situation in the District of Columbia. Violations of these housing regulations by the landlord presented a tenant with a complete defense against dispossession for nonpayment of rent. The availability of this type of defense enables a devious tenant to unjustly avoid payment of rent, thus causing a landlord irreparable financial damage. By requesting a jury trial a tenant could cause deferment of rental payments for several months, while the cost to a tenant would be nil if he were allowed to proceed in forma pauperis. Therefore, landlord protective orders developed to protect the landlord from financial loss during protracted litigation where the tenant asserted a frivolous defense. Unfortunately, misuse of these orders could potentially circumvent the rights of the honest tenant as conferred by the housing regulations. Due to their recent development, there have been only two decisions which have dealt with these orders and prerequisites for their use: Bell v. Tsintolas Realty Co., which dealt with a pre-trial matter, and Cooks v. Fowler, which dealt with an appellate matter. The purpose of this Comment will be to examine the more recent decision in Cooks as it relates to Bell, and thereby evaluate the current status of the law.

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