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The American Civil Liberties Union says an eastern Washington county is operating a modern day debtors’ prison in violation of both the United States and Washington State Constitutions.  The ACLU of Washington and the law firm of Terrell Marshall Law Group filed a class-action lawsuit against Benton County, which includes the towns of Richland and Kennewick.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Federal education officials have opened an inquiry into whether the University of Washington properly handled the case of a student who reported an instance of sexual violence, according to a statement from the school.

The investigation adds UW to a list of more than 100 colleges nationally — including Washington State University and Whitman College — where the U.S. Department of Education is investigating compliance with federal laws protecting victims of sexual assault or harassment.

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The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who says her decades-old drug convictions cost her a chance to rent an apartment—a violation of Washington state law. 

And hundreds others may have been illegally rejected for apartments in the state because of unfair background checks. 

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How do you build a whole new industry – and undermine a black market -- without increasing its customer base?  

That’s the challenge state regulators are facing as they write the rules that will govern recreational marijuana in Washington. The American Civil Liberties Union is urging caution.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Civil liberties advocates are raising concerns about a network of 30 surveillance cameras installed along Seattle’s shoreline, purchased with a $5 million dollar federal grant. When the measure first came up in city council last year, Seattle Police Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh said it was all about Port security.  

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Police officers working in schools can’t necessarily search a student without a warrant, even though a teacher usually can. That’s the upshot of a ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court out Thursday, in a case involving a student at Robinswood High in Bellevue and the murky legal realm of cops in schools.

The Bellevue Police Department has five officers working exclusively in the schools. In this case, one of them caught the student with a bag of marijuana, arrested him, and then searched his locked bag without permission.

A proposal to fight gangs in King County is coming under fire from civil liberties groups. Among other things, a proposed county ordinance would make it illegal to coerce someone into joining a gang.

King County Council members says they want to make the county unfriendly to gangs, but there isn't agreement on how to do that.

A new law that would legalize medical-marijuana dispensaries and growers in Washington has already passed both chambers of the legislature in Olympia.  But it looks like it won't ever take effect.

That's because the state's top federal prosecutors have threatened to crack down if it goes forward.

In a letter to Governor Chris Gregoire, U.S. Attorneys Jenny Durkan of Seattle and Michael Ormsby of Spokane write that the bill would undermine drug enforcement

Ted S. Warren / AP

Update 2:55 p.m.

The federal Department of Justice is launching a full-scale investigation into possible discrimination and excessive use of force in the Seattle Police Department. The probe will review the department’s policies, practices and behavior.

The investigation will look for what’s called a “pattern or practice” of civil rights violations in how the Seattle police use force, especially against minorities.

ACLU Legal Exhibit

King County is being sued over its refusal to allow a controversial ad on Metro buses. The advertisement, sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, reads:  “Israeli War Crimes.Your Tax Dollars at Work.”

County officials originally agreed to the ad in December, but changed their mind when news of the campaign sparked international criticism and concerns about violence.