October 6th, 2014
Wilson Smith Cochran Dickerson is pleased to have helped amplify the voices of missing and exploited children in the Washington courts. Alongside the national law firm of Kaye Scholer, our partner, Kathy Cochran, had the honor of assisting in the filing of an amicus brief on behalf of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in a case pending before the Supreme Court of Washington. An amicus brief—or “friend of the court” brief—provides an opportunity for a person or organization that is not a party to a case to show it has a sufficient interest in the case to be allowed to file a brief in support of a party’s position. The case is J.S., L.S., and L.C. v. Village Voice Media Holdings, L.L.C., d/b/a Backpage.com; Backpage.com, L.L.C.; and New Times Media, L.L.C., d/b/a/ Backpage.com. NCMEC’s amicus brief supports the unnamed minors, who have allegedly been victimized by business practices that encourage or facilitate child sex trafficking through “escort” ads on Backpage.com. Backpage.com and its related business entities are asserting that they are immune from such lawsuits under federal law. The plaintiffs contend that federal law offers only limited immunity under the circumstances presented. The amicus brief allows NCMEC an opportunity to assist the unnamed minors in their pursuit of justice, arguing that the importance of protecting children from exploitation trumps the Backpage argument.
Established in 1984, NCMEC is the Congressionally-designated “official national resource center and information clearinghouse for missing and exploited children.” 42 U.S.C. § 5773(b)(1)(B). NCMEC has been working to end any business practices that turn a blind eye to the sexual exploitation of children, and therefore supports the plaintiffs’ argument that Backpage.com has not addressed a known problem. The amicus brief allows NCMEC an opportunity to share with the court its unique knowledge, gained from its 30-year mission of assisting children, families, and law enforcement to identify, locate, and recover victims of child sex trafficking. We here at WSCD are proud to have played a small part in that important effort.