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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Paula Wissel

It seems as much a part of a trip to the ballpark as eating hotdogs.

But, when you hear the announcer say, "Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and remove your caps for the singing of the national anthem," do you ever wonder why you're standing?

As we discovered, you'll find the answer on an obscure plaque in the city of Tacoma.

Joe Bushnell

The Washington state Department of Transportation is trying to figure out what went wrong on Saturday when dozens of pieces of construction lumber on the Nalley Valley viaduct project on Highway 16 came loose and fell onto the roadway below, smashing into pieces as drivers watched in disbelief. 

An independent panel that oversees the state’s foster care system is going away. And it isn’t because of budget cuts. The panel was scheduled to disband this year.

The Braam Foster Care Oversight Panel, which held its final meeting earlier this week, was put in place seven years ago as part of a landmark legal agreement requiring foster care reform in Washington.

Paula Wissel

Spending a semester abroad is often a highlight of college life. But for one University of Washington graduate, it was anything but.

Grace Flott is still dealing with scars from a tragedy she suffered while overseas. Now she’s working to help others learn from her experience.

Hanging drywall is a dirty, hard job. And 250 workers at Summit Drywall, Inc., based in Issaquah, say it was even worse for them because they didn’t get paid the wages they were due.

The U.S. Department of Labor is suing Summit Drywall on behalf of the workers, claiming the company failed to pay minimum wage and time and a half for overtime.

Workers near Sea-Tac Airport, who prepare the meals served on many airlines, say their employer is failing to accommodate their religiously-based dietary needs. Gate Gourmet provides meals for employees who are not allowed for security reasons  to bring their own food into the facility or to eat lunch off-site.

Paula Wissel

It’s been twenty years since Tacoma lost its only law school. Now, civic leaders are hoping they can bring back a legal-degree program to the South Sound.  They say it will help train lawyers who stay and work in Tacoma and add energy to the city's intellectual climate.

Morgan/Flickr

Everyone waits until the last minute. That apparently was the case with reaction to proposed rules for the legal sale of marijuana in Washington. 

As Monday's deadline for public comment approached, the  Washington Liquor Control Board received so much input on its first draft of rules that it plans to delay the final draft of the regulations. 

Minority leaders were among those expressing concern about how the new marijuana law will be implemented.

Alan Cleaver / Flickr

Violent crime has gone up in our region, according to the latest statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the FBI's Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report for 2012, Seattle and Tacoma saw more murders, robberies and aggravated assaults in 2012 than in 2011. Some other Washington cities, including Bellevue, also saw more crime.

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of private retail liquor sales in Washington. According to the Liquor Control Board, 1,680 retailers now stock vodka, whiskey, and other spirits.

Dean Hasegawa, manager of the Red Apple supermarkets on Seattle’s Beacon Hill and in the Central Area, says the biggest problem for him and other retailers has been theft. 

"That was an expensive learning curve, I’m going to tell you," said Hasegawa, reflecting on the past year.

The Captain Joseph House Foundation's Facebook page

For families who have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, Memorial Day can be a time of unbearable sadness. That’s especially true for Betsey Reed Schultz, a grieving mother in Port Angeles. But the woman is a shining example of someone trying to turn her sorrow into something beautiful.

A mother's worst nightmare

It was two years ago on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Betsy Reed Schultz got the visit every deployed soldier's mother fears.

Two officers, including a military chaplain, were standing at her door. The moment felt surreal.

Associated Press

United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington Jenny Durkan faced tough questions from senators in Washington D.C. on Wednesday when she testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.

Durkan, who was speaking as chair of the U.S. Justice Department Task Force on Cyber Crime, was asked why more isn't being done to stop thieves who use the Internet to steal everything from credit card numbers to trade secrets.

Aaron Hushagen

At least 17 protesters were arrested and eight officers injured Wednesday as an "anti-capitalism" May Day march took a violent turn, first on Capitol Hill then in downtown Seattle. 

Vandals shattered the glass door of Sun Liquor, at 512 East Pike, around 7 p.m. before heading downtown, hurling metal pipes and rocks at cars and police, shoving camera crews and setting off flares along the way. 

Justin Steyer

A planned rally and march for workers and immigration reform progressed without interruptions by anarchists Wednesday, easing fears of another violent May Day.

Thousands of people gathered at Judkins Park, behind St. Mary's Church, for the Rally for Workers and Immigrant Rights at 1 p.m. Several unions were present, as were some representatives of the Occupy movement. Many people were displaying the flags of U.S. and Mexico, as well as signs urging comprehensive immigration reform. 

Schulte family

A Seattle man who lost his parents and whose wife and infant son were critically injured by a drunk driver says these tragedies must be stopped. 

"This is preventable and it should be prevented," said Dan Schulte at a news conference Tuesday. "I don't know what that means yet. I don't know if I'm going to dedicate my life to this cause, which I might, but I do know that things need to change."

Justin Steyer

Seattle police insist they’re ready for whatever happens on May Day, that they are better staffed, better organized and better trained than last year.

“We’re as prepared as we can be, given our resources,” said Captain Chris Fowler, the designated commander for police May Day response.

Last year on May Day, there was widespread confusion among officers on duty about how to respond to black-clad vandals smashing windows downtown.

What’s different this time?

Reverberations from last year's May Day melee in downtown Seattle are still being felt among some activists in the Pacific Northwest.

You could say what happened after the window-smashing by black bloc anarchists on May 1, 2012 has spawned a whole new protest movement, the grand jury resistance movement.

New Mexico Department of Public Safety

Sit in a courtroom where people are being arraigned on charges of driving under the influence, and you get an idea of the obstacles Washington lawmakers face in trying to pass tougher drunk driving laws.

I recently spent an eye-opening afternoon in Judge Mark Eide's courtroom in King County District Court in Burien.

The settlement of a class-action lawsuit, filed on behalf of asylum seekers, should make it easier for people to work in the U.S. while for their asylum petition to be acted on.

The problem has been with something called the “asylum clock.” The clock is actually a complicated formula the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies use to decide when someone is allowed to legally begin working in the United States. Theoretically, it’s supposed to be around six months. But, according to the court case, it stretches into years.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

  Washington state officials say it's not OK for bars to allow marijuana use, and they'll take quick steps to address that.

The announcement from the state Liquor Control Board on Wednesday followed a recent report by The Associated Press about establishments in Olympia and Tacoma that allow people to consume marijuana on-site.

But a worker at one such bar in Tacoma says the state’s efforts will do little good. 

Associated Press

Ever try pot? Answer yes to a border agent, and foreigners could face permanent consequences even if they haven't used marijuana in years. 

More and more Canadians are learning the hard way that admitting to U.S. border agents that you smoked pot can bar you from entering the country forever.

Immigration lawyers say some Canadians are under the mistaken impression that legalization of marijuana in Washington state has resulted in leniency by U.S. border agents here, but it hasn't. Marijuana is still an illegal substance under federal law.

Joint Terrorism Task Force

After Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for plotting to attack a military processing center in Seattle, some of the secretly recorded tapes of him planning the assault were released by U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan.

President Barack Obama is designating five new national monuments, using executive authority to protect historic or ecologically significant sites —including one in Washington state.

The San Juan Islands National Monument off Washington's northwest coast includes roughly 1,000 acres of public land already managed by the BLM.

University of Washington

If cyber crime is a growth industry, so is fighting cyber crime.

The University of Washington Tacoma is the latest school to join the ranks of colleges and universities offering degrees in fighting cyber crooks.

Paula Wissel

Should going to prison mean losing your parental rights forever?  Legal advocates say that’s what’s been happening in Washington State, especially to women who are incarcerated.

Legal Voice and other groups are pushing a bill, HB1284, that would give judges more discretion in deciding whether to put children up for adoption when a mother or father is behind bars.

Ridership on two free shuttles in downtown Seattle has doubled since the buses went into operation last October. The city funded the service for low income residents after Metro’s ride free area ended.  The service was slow getting started because people either didn't know about it or had difficulty finding the bus stops.

(For an audio tour of a ride on one of the buses, click the Audio button above)

ehow.com

How much natural light do you have in your work space? Is there a window? Can you see the sky? Some architects say those are the sorts of questions building designers need to be asking.  It’s part of a movement to bring more daylight into our work lives.

Wikimedia Commons

What does it take to make someone a parent in the eyes of the law? And can a child have more than two designated legal parents?  

As families become more complex, those are questions courts in Washington and elsewhere are wrestling with.

Back in 2005,  the Washington State Supreme Court became something of a national leader when it ruled on a case involving a lesbian couple.

The court determined that, after the couple split up, the non biological mother could have full parental rights as a “de facto parent.”

Washington's top officials met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington D.C. today and tried to reassure the Obama administration that Washington's new marijuana law won't result in distribution of pot outside the state.

A Seattle man with profound hearing loss has won a key battle in his fight with Creighton University Medical School in Nebraska over accommodating his disability. The case could have ramifications for other institutions of higher education.

Michael Argenyi, who received his undergraduate degree from Seattle University, asked Creighton to pay for interpreters and a real time captioning service known as CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation). The medical school refused, offering other services instead. Argenyi sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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