Paula Wissel

Law & Justice Reporter

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KPLU since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KPLU, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.

Paula's most memorable moment at KPLU: “Interviewing NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr about his ability to put current events in historical context. It’s something I aspire to.”

Ways to Connect

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

With Democratic Party caucuses taking place this Saturday in Washington, the two candidates vying for the presidential nomination are zeroing in on the state. On Sunday, Bernie Sanders spoke to a large crowd at Key Arena in Seattle and he’s expected to make a return visit to the state later this week.  Hillary Clinton  campaigned in Washington on Tuesday.

Marco Ugarte / AP Photo

Nestora Salgado, of Renton, Washington, who was held in a prison in Mexico for two and a half years, was released this morning from Tepepan prison in Mexico City. Human rights activists in Mexico and the United States had been pressuring the Mexican government to free her.

Journalists in Washington state cannot be forced to reveal their confidential sources. It’s what’s known as a news media shield law. In a recent ruling, a state court ruled the law could apply to reporters in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. This was the first test of Washington's shield law, which was passed by the state legislature in 2007.

Ada Be / Flkr Creative Commons

A recent deadly house fire in Centralia, which killed three children of a Washington lobbyist, had a lot of us thinking about our own families and homes and wondering if we are doing everything we can to prevent a similar tragedy. I called up Washington's Deputy Fire Marshal Lysandra Davis for some fire safety advice.

Here are her top three recommendations for surviving a fire in the home:

Molly McGuire

Heroin use in King County is at epidemic levels. Government and public health officials say something needs to be done. So, they’re forming a task force.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Fifty-six former and retired judges in Washington state are urging the Washington Supreme Court to declare the death penalty unconstitutional. They signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in a case  being heard tomorrow in Olympia.

PBS 'Frontline'

Seattle’s heroin epidemic is the focus of tonight's episode [February 23] of the PBS series "Frontline".

“Chasing Heroin” airs at 9 p.m. on KCTS-TV. The documentary looks at  King County’s LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program, calling it a “radical new approach” to fighting the epidemic.

Courtesy of Peregrine Church


Next time you’re walking on a sidewalk in Seattle and it’s raining, look down. You just might see a message reveal itself.

At least that’s the intention of a 21-year-old magician who has created unusual sidewalk art. His stenciled messages are only visible when it’s wet outside.

Read the story and see a map of the artwork on >>>

You can also read an update to that story by clicking here.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

More than a dozen workers at Sea-Tac Airport have filed lawsuits claiming they are being unfairly denied the city of Seatac's current minimum wage of $15.24.  The baggage handlers, airplane cleaners, rental-car wranglers and others who work in support services at the airport say they are also owed two years of back pay.

David Nogueras / KPLU

At what point does a threatening message on social media rise to the level of criminal conduct, particularly when you’re talking about teenagers? It’s something courts are increasingly having to deal with. A recent decision by the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington is a case in point.

Erin Hennessey / KPLU

Every time a cop goes out on a call, chances are good that the encounter will be with someone suffering from mental illness. It’s the reason the Seattle Police Department has trained officers in crisis intervention and teamed them up with mental health professionals.

It’s typical for someone found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to be required to submit to random drug tests as a condition of their probation. But a Port Hadlock, Washington woman convicted of a misdemeanor says such a requirement violates her right to privacy.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

In the late 1960s and early '70s, all sorts of underground newspapers had emerged from the counterculture and antiwar movements. Most of them weren’t actually all that underground, since there wasn’t much risk involved in publishing or distributing them.

But if you were in the military and you wanted to publish stories that strayed from the company line, you could get in serious trouble. That led in part to something called the GI underground movement.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A Lynden, Washington man has been sentenced to eight months in prison and slapped with a $10,000 fine for assaulting federal officers.  According to court records, Wayne Groen, 46,  intentionally drove his truck towards three U.S. Border Patrol agents last July.

And this isn't his first run in with federal agents.

Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp says we often talk about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a sole figure, without looking at the people and events he was influenced by. One of those key influences, says Beauchamp, was the death of Emmett Till on August 28, 1955.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The father of the Marysville school shooter has been sentenced to two years in federal prison. But, a defense attorney for Raymond Fryberg plans to appeal the sentence for illegal possession of guns. Fryberg’s son, Jaylen, killed four students and himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High in 2014. One student survived the shooting.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Following on the heels of President Obama’s gun initiative, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced his own executive action to curb firearm violence. Calling his executive order a “measured, modest approach” to preventing gun deaths,  Governor Inslee is directing state and local health care and law enforcement agencies to do a better job of both collecting and sharing data.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

U.S. Representative Jim McDermott, a Seattle liberal Democrat who is retiring from public office, leaves a legacy both understated and high-profile, according to columnist Joel Connelly. On Monday, McDermott announced he will not seek a 15th term in office.

Peregrine Church

When it’s pouring down rain, a certain kind of art suddenly becomes visible on some sidewalks in Seattle. The stenciled images of things like giant rain drops can only be seen when the surface is wet.  A twenty-two-year-old Seattle man, Peregrine Church, created what he calls rainworks. Now, he’s taking his idea to the world beyond the Pacific Northwest.

Paula Wissel

Have you ever had a job that was so repetitive you did little things to try and spice it up?  Apparently, that’s true even when you’re a professional musician playing in the orchestra for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s "The Nutcracker."

That's what KPLU's Paula Wissel found out when she went to a matinee performance on Tuesday and got a behind-the-scenes tour.

Paula Wissel

When does a posting on a social media site go beyond free speech to become a hate crime? That’s one of the questions that comes up when you talk about Washington’s hate crime statute.  Earlier this month, suspended Western Washington University, Tysen Campbell, was charged with felony malicious harassment, Washington's hate crime law. Two high school students in Edmonds, Washington were recently arrested for allegedly violating the same law. In both of these cases, the perpetrators allegedly posted racist threats online.

Paula Wissel

Consumers in Washington are losing $33 million each year to tech support scams, according to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is suing iYogi, one of the world’s biggest independent providers of tech support.

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

Ride the Ducks vehicles could be back on the road and in the water in Seattle as early as next month. This despite state investigators finding hundreds of safety violations by the tourist company, including many for bad record keeping.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

A suspended Western Washington University student has pleaded not guilty to hate crime charges.

19-year-old Tysen Campbell appeared in Whatcom County Superior Court Friday after being charged with malicious harassment, under Washington's hate crime law, for allegedly writing "let's lynch her" on a social media post concerning a student leader at Western Washington University.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Washington  Supreme Court says its opinion that SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage law ordinance applies to airport workers stands. That was in response to Alaska Airlines and other businesses asking the court to reconsider its August ruling. The "order denying motion for reconsideration" was issued by the court on Monday, November 30.

Paula Wissel

Police reform in Seattle isn’t happening quickly enough for some community groups in the city. The police department has been under a federal court order to overcome racially biased policing.

Paula Wissel

This time of year, it’s worth a reminder that some children’s gifts can be hazardous. The annual “dangerous toys” list is out from the Washington Public Interest Research Group. For its “Trouble in Toyland” report, the group scoured store shelves for toys that pose choking hazards, or have magnets so powerful they can cause serious internal injuries if swallowed, or are so loud they can hurt kid's hearing.

Anthony Bopp

A transgender Seattle man has won his battle against an insurance company over his medical treatment. Anthony Bopp, who works in the produce section at a local QFC grocery store, has health coverage through Sound Health and Wellness Trust, but the insurer has been refusing to pay for routine treatment Bopp needs.

Paula Wissel

In Seattle’s City Council races, incumbents are all leading, including the city’s first socialist council member Kshama Sawant. Council President Tim Burgess, as well as council members Sally Bagshaw, Bruce Harrell and Mike OBrien, appear to be winning handily. Sawant’s race for Seattle City Council District 3 is closer.

Nicholas K. Geranios / AP

More than 20 years ago, a drive-by shooting outside Ballard High School in Seattle left 16-year-old Melissa Fernandes dead. The perpetrator, Brian Ronquillo, also a teenager, was sent to prison for more than 50 years.

Now, the state Court of Appeals says the killer’s age should have been considered. It is another sign that courts are giving more weight to teenage brain development.