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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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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Emergency response
3:53 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Coming soon: 9-1-1 via text, but is it a good idea?

Gabriel Spitzer

If you're faced with a serious emergency, chances are you'll pick up the phone and call 9-1-1. But how about sending a text message instead?  It’s not something 9-1-1 operators can handle now. But, that could soon change.

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Census data
5:54 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Seattle leads U.S. when it comes to parent volunteers

Lance Cheung USDA

Another list ranks Seattle #1.  This time the data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and the ranking has to do with moms and dads volunteering their time.

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Distracted driving
4:35 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Do you text while you drive? You're not alone.

A car involved in a fatal "texting and driving" accident. The Washington State Patrol takes the car to high schools in the state as part of an education campaign.
Paula Wissel

Have you ever been tempted to respond to a text message while you’re behind the wheel?

Texting while driving is illegal in Washington state, but the practice is common enough that the state plans to launch a full scale campaign against it along the lines of the “Click it or Ticket” campaign that promotes seat belt use.

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same-sex marriage
6:33 am
Thu December 6, 2012

First marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in Washington

Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen receive the first marriage licenses issued by King County to a same-sex couple
Paula Wissel

In King County, the first marriage license to a same-sex couple was issued at exactly 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.

People cheered as King County Executive Dow Constantine counted down and  declared, "Happy Marriage Equality Day."

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Marriage equality
3:54 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

King County prepares for midnight rush on same sex marriage licenses

Cameron Satterfield, spokesman for King County Records describes preparations for the issuance of marriage licenses beginning at midnight.
Paula Wissel

Same sex marriage becomes legal in Washington at midnight tonight.  King County is pulling out all the stops to accommodate the hundreds of couples expected to show up at twelve to get marriage licenses.

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Out of work
5:33 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Unemployed workers to be pushed off their own 'fiscal cliff'

thinkprogress.org

Up to 60,000 people in Washington will lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the month. That’s because a federal  program, called Emergency Unemployment Compensation, is set to expire.

The federal government has often been on the verge of cutting off extended unemployment benefits only to renew them at the last minute.  Since the recession hit, the U.S. Congress has voted 10 times to continue the extended benefits program.

But Sherlyl Hutchison, spokeswoman for the Washington’s Employment Security Department, says there’s no indication that will happen this time.

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Youth violence
3:42 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Strange alliance: Gun foes agree kids, illegal guns don't mix

The proposed law would put a teen behind bars for 10 days on the first gun offense.
Internet persona Flickr

In a rare show of solidarity, gun control and gun rights groups are joining forces to pass tougher gun laws for juvenile offenders in Washington. 

At a news conference with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, representatives of Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Washington CeaseFire spoke in favor of proposed legislation that would require juveniles convicted of illegal gun possession to be locked up on the first offense.

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Marriage equality
4:10 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Update: New marriage forms let you choose 'spouse'

As many same-sex couples prepare for marriage, state agencies are working fast to be ready for them.
Gary Davis KPLU

Update from the Washington Department of Health:

Revisions to Washington’s marriage certificate to conform with the new same-sex marriage law gives couples a full range of options — gender-neutral or gender-specific terms. The new form has been sent to local auditors around the state. The form is effective December 6 when the law takes effect. Marriage certificates are filed after the marriage.

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Legalized marijuana
4:16 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

UN weighs in as Feds urged to support new marijuana laws

The group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), delivered a letter to the Justice Department this morning calling for the support of new marijuana laws.
Lauren Paulsen Flickr

The United Nations drug watchdog agency wants U.S. officials to challenge new marijuana legalization laws in Washington and Colorado. U.N. Narcotics Control Board head Raymond Yans says the approvals send "a wrong message to the rest of the nation and abroad."

At the same time, a group of retired cops, judges and prosecutors is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to support the new laws making it legal for adults 21 and over to possess small amounts of marijuana.

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Police
5:14 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Seattle to target violent crime

You can expect to see more police in Seattle soon.  The 2013 city budget includes money to hire additional cops with an emphasis on fighting violent crime.

(For complete story, click on Listen button.)

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2012 Elections
3:15 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Inslee optimistic after first returns

Democrat Jay Inslee has a slim lead over Republican Rob McKenna in the race for Governor of Washinton. The initial ballot count shows Inslee with 51 percent to McKenna’s 49 percent.  In Bellevue, McKenna told supporters he’s still optimistic he can win and will wait for more votes to be counted. But, Inslee told a packed election night room in Seattle he expects the trend to continue in his favor.

Veteran's Day
5:28 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Veterans group challenge ban from Auburn parade

Veterans for Peace marching in Auburn Veteran's Day parade in 2009. This year their application to march was denied.
Paula Wissel

A veterans group is suing over its exclusion from a local Veteran’s Day parade.  Veterans for Peace says the city of Auburn unfairly denied its application to march in the parade this year on November 10.

Auburn's parade is one of the largest Veteran's Day parades west of the Mississippi. For the past 6 years, Veterans for Peace has participated. 

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