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.”

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Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Death penalty cases in Washington state cost the public one-and-a-half times as much as those where capital punishment isn’t on the table, Seattle University researchers have found.

The seven-month study was authored by Seattle University professors Robert Boruchowitz of the School of Law and Peter Collins of the criminal justice department.

Malcolm Griffes / KPLU

The Food and Drug Administration FDA is proposing ending the lifetime ban on gay blood donors. But even if such is the case, there would still be restrictions. And that disappoints activists who’ve been pushing for change.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

It’s been nearly two months since the deadly shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School. Five students died, including the 15-year-old gunman.

Since then, 68 families have turned to the state of Washington for financial help to deal with the tragedy. They've received $23,000 from Washington’s Crime Victim Compensation Fund.

Sean_Marshall / Flickr

The cremated remains of 23 people will be scattered on the waters of Puget Sound on Thursday. The Pierce County medical examiner says all the ashes are either unwanted, or friends and relatives of the deceased could not be found.

As the list of the deceased indicates, some of the cases go back decades.

Paula Wissel

The National Security Agency’s bulk collection of cell phone data is at the heart of a case before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were heard Monday in Seattle.

The plaintiff is an unlikely candidate to take on the U.S. government. Anna Smith is a nurse and mom who lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Paula Wissel

Seattle police promise to do a better job of dealing with property crime.

They acknowledge current response times are too slow. When someone calls 911, it can take 45 minutes for an officer to be dispatched to the scene of a burglary or car prowl.

Charlie Riedel / AP Photo

Federal officials have arrested a Washington state man for allegedly posting Internet threats to kill the police officer who shot and killed a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

Paula Wissel

About 100 people gathered at Westlake Park on Monday for a peaceful protest in response to a grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in the death of Michael Brown, a black man, in Ferguson, Missouri.

Jim Mone / AP Photo

 

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says police don't need permission to record their interactions with citizens using cameras worn on their uniforms.

In an opinion issued Monday, Ferguson says interactions with on-duty police are presumed to be public, and therefore officers are under no obligation to turn off the cameras if people object to being recorded — even if the conversation is being recorded in someone's home.

The Urban Rest Stop, which has been serving the homeless population in Seattle for 15 years, recently faced a possible loss of one-third of its budget. But the Seattle City Council voted instead to continue full funding.

I toured the facility with Urban Rest Stop program director Ronni Gilboa. Here's a two-minute recap of what it's like there:

Gilboa, who was the director when the program started in 1999, says she's never wanted to leave.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

State health officials are putting a positive spin on the bumpy rollout of the state’s health insurance exchange.

Over the weekend, the Washington Healthplanfinder website shut down just a few hours after it opened for business. It’s now back online after a glitch involving tax credit calculations was fixed.

Domestic violence calls are some of the toughest police face. Emotions are usually running high and often there’s a weapon in the mix.

On Thursday in Seattle’s City Hall, some domestic violence first responders will be honored for  extraordinary service.

David Sullivan is one of the responders:

Sullivan and the other first responders will be honored Thursday in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in Seattle City Hall at 10 a.m.

Tent cities would be allowed to stay longer on land in King County under a proposal before the King County Council.

Under current law, the homeless encampments are required to move every three months. A King County ordinance would extend that to four months.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington voters have overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to expand background checks for person-to-person gun sales and transfers. Initiative 594 passed with 60 percent of the vote.

At the I-594 victory party in Seattle, campaign manager Zach Silk fired up the crowd.

“Washington state has voted yes on 594 and closed the background check loophole,” Silk said.

Paula Wissel

In the wake of Friday’s deadly shooting, a makeshift memorial site is taking shape at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. A long chain-link fence is now covered with balloons, ribbons and flowers. But there’s something unusual about this memorial site.

Paula Wissel

In the wake of Friday’s deadly shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, some Native children in the district have received threats, according to the Tulalip Tribes.

Tribal member Jaylen Fryberg killed himself after shooting five friends, killing two of them. In a statement, the tribes said some kids are fearful of returning to school, and some parents are reluctant to send them.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Parents and officials gathered Tuesday to discuss the aftermath of Friday’s shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School that left three students dead, including the gunman, and three others injured.

Parents listened as Tulalip tribal leaders, school district officials and law enforcement officials spoke. The main message: If we stay united, we’ll get through this together.

Women who work at Dream Girls at Foxes, a strip club in Tacoma, don’t want Pierce County to release personal information about them. They say doing so would violate their right to privacy.

But the Pierce County auditor says Washington’s Public Records Act requires her to release information contained in the women’s business licenses on file with the county.

Seth Perlman / AP Photo

There are two gun initiatives on the Washington ballot. Initiative 594 and Initiative 591 both have to do with background checks on gun buyers.

The battle over the initiatives is a classic fight between gun control advocates who say more regulation will limit gun violence and gun rights activists who fear a loss of their Second Amendment “right to bear arms.”

Tetona Dunlap / AP Photo

Nervous air travelers might know Sea-Tac International Airport doesn’t have any flights to or from Africa. What it does have is a quarantine station that’s prepared to stop the spread of contagious diseases, such as Ebola.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has 20 quarantine stations around the U.S. In Seattle, the station is located at Sea-Tac, and it’s not new. 

duncan C / Flickr

Seattle thinks it knows its coffee. After all, it's the birthplace of Starbucks, and neighborhoods with two or three coffeehouses per block are not uncommon.

So you’d think the new director of Seattle Opera, Aidan Lang, would be happy. He’s a self-described coffee lover. But Lang says what we’re missing is a drink that’s taking the world by storm called a "flat white."

So we set out to find out what a flat white is, and where we can find it in Seattle. Click play below to hear what we found.

Paula Wissel

The Blessing of the Animals has long been a tradition in the Anglican Church in England and Catholic and Episcopal churches in the United States. It occurs on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Pacific Northwest isn’t immune to home grown terrorists. That’s what FBI director James Comey told reporters during a stop in Seattle.

Comey, who’s been in his position for a year, is visiting all 56 FBI field offices.

Paula Wissel

Imagine spending ten years of your life behind bars for a crime you didn’t commit. 

That's what happened to Brandon Redtailhawk Olebar. Now, Washington state is paying him more than half a million dollars.

Olebar is one of the first exonerees to receive a monetary award under a Washington law passed in 2013. The law makes it possible for people wrongfully incarcerated in the state to receive up to $50,000 for each year in prison as well as tuition waivers for themselves and their families to state universities and colleges.

Paula Wissel

Charges of racial discrimination are being aimed at a Sound Transit contractor. 

A group of African American laborers who worked on the Sound Transit Link Light Rail project at Husky Stadium are suing, seeking class action status in federal court.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says he isn’t promoting the use of marijuana in public, but he is calling for all the tickets issued for public pot smoking between Jan. 1 and July 31 to be thrown out.

John Leven

In a public ceremony Saturday in Port Townsend, a 101-year-old ship’s bell will finally come home. 

The story of the bell is worthy of the name given the wooden schooner it was made for in 1913. The sailing ship is called Adventuress. 

Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo

Weyerhaeuser is moving its headquarters from Federal Way to Seattle's historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, the company announced Tuesday.

The 114-year-old timber company will "divest the land and buildings it owns in Federal Way, Washington," according to a news release.

Arizona State University/Shared Hope International

Men who are convicted of paying for sex with minors are unlikely to serve much time behind bars, says the finding of new research conducted by Arizona State University and released by Shared Hope International, an organization trying to stop sex trafficking.

The study examined 134 cases in Seattle, Phoenix, Portland and Baltimore-Washington, D.C.

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