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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marijuana & border patrol
5:01 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Ever try pot? Answer yes, and U.S. won't let you in — ever

File image
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.

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terrorism
2:44 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Listen: Secret tapes of a terror plot

Photo from FBI showing Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif purchasing a machine gun for attack on military processing center in Seattle.
Joint Terrorism Task Force

KPLU Radio story about tapes.

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.

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Northwest notes
12:07 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

New national monument planned in San Juan Islands

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.

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Homeland Security
4:35 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

UW Tacoma to offer cybersecurity degree

The University of Washington Tacoma campus is seen in this photo.
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.

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Criminal Justice
5:00 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Moms in prison shouldn't lose rights to kids so quickly, some say

Nadine Miller, of Tacoma, holds her son Phinnix. She lost parental rights to her 3 older children.
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.

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transportation
1:07 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Free downtown bus is no longer a best kept secret.

Ridership is growing on free shuttle bus operated by Solid Ground with a $400,000 grant from the city of Seattle.

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)

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Work life
5:00 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Working in a space with no windows can affect your brain

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.

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Families
3:00 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Can a child have more than two legal parents?

The two parent family portrayed in "Leave It To Beaver" circa 1960.
Credit 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.”

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Legalized marijuana
5:46 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Governor tells feds not to worry about Washington's legalization of marijuana

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.

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Disability rights
11:02 am
Wed January 16, 2013

Deaf student can sue medical school for discrimination

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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Juvenile courts
2:25 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Did you know Washington sells juvenile records to background check companies?

Credit Thomas Hawk / Flickr

If you apply for a job, chances are good your potential employer will do a criminal background check on you. In Washington, that means even something you did as a juvenile could be held against you. Washington is one of a handful of states that sells juvenile court records to background check companies.

(Click Listen button to hear the story.)

Anti-war protests
6:04 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Do free speech rights include the right to carry a backpack?

A case involving protesters, U.S. Army Stryker vehicles and backpacks, that’s right backpacks, is being heard in a federal courtroom in Tacoma.  The civil rights trial comes nearly six years after the actual protests took place at the Port of Tacoma.

(Click on the listen button to hear the complete story.)

The "no backpack" directive can be heard on this video from the March 2007 protests at the Port of Tacoma.

Human rights
4:03 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

North Korean trip shines light on plight of Seattle area man

Controversy surrounding travel to North Korea by a private delegation, including Google executive Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, is bringing attention to the story of a Lynnwood man who's been detained in North Korea for more than two months.

(Click on the listen button for the complete story.)

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Staff Sgt. Robert Bales
2:47 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Military death penalty cases are rare

There are 8 men on military death row in Leavenworth, Kansas.
U.S. Disciplinary Barracks

The Army has announced it will seek the death penalty against Joint Base Lewis McChord soldier Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

Currently, there are 8 men awaiting execution on military death row in Leavenworth, Kansas. Some have been there for decades.

Washington District Court Judge Jack Nevin, of Tacoma, is a retired Brigadier General who was Chief Judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals. He also teaches a class on military law at Seattle University Law School.

KPLU Law and Justice Reporter Paula Wissel interviewed Nevin about the differences between  military and civilian death penalty cases.

(Click on listen button above to hear the radio interview.)

Drug abuse
5:21 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Teen marijuana use up

More teens are getting high on marijuana.  According to a national survey, high school kids are also less likely than in previous years to see marijuana use as harmful.

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