Law

Stories about law and politics in the Pacific Northwest, with many from KPLU's Law and Justice reporter, Paula Wissel.

Lawyers are finding themselves facing the same pressures recording artists and journalists have had to contend with: free content on the Internet. 

Technological changes and a DIY culture are also changing the legal profession in fundamental ways. And how to adapt has been a hot topic at law schools in Washington and at the Washington Bar Association.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

When is someone too stoned to drive? Washington's new marijuana law includes a new way to answer that question: a blood limit for the drug.

It's supposed to set a standard just as clear as the .08 blood alcohol content police use for drunk drivers. But one year after voters legalized pot, the line is looking almost as blurry as ever.

Associated Press

Seattle attorney Kurt Boehl is happy to think he's contributing to the success of Washington's grand experiment in regulating marijuana by advising his clients on how to navigate the industry's legal complexities.

But there's a worry that his efforts could earn him an ethics complaint. After all, marijuana is illegal under federal law, and lawyers aren't supposed to help their clients break the law.

Associated Press

This month, the state Liquor Control Board will begin accepting applications for marijuana business licenses. State officials on Monday released details about the application process. Here are four things you should know:

Quagmar / Flickr

 

Officials at a school district in north Idaho say a plan to arm teachers is off. The proposal has been generating controversy in the Sandpoint area.

But that part of a school safety plan is no longer under consideration.

Associated Press

One selling point of Washington's new legal marijuana law was that a huge chunk of pot-related tax revenue would be devoted to health coverage for low-income residents.

But it's not clear the money will go to health care after all.Under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," a would-be recipient of the pot taxes— Washington's Basic Health Plan—is being eliminated. The plan, which provided low-cost health insurance to the working poor, is being absorbed by Medicaid and will end Dec. 31, according the state Health Care Authority.

An Army Reservist will collect back pay from an Everett, Wash. company accused of violating his reemployment rights.

The U.S Justice Department announced a settlement Monday with the battery retailer that fired the Iraq War veteran.

Cacophony / Wikipedia

The state Supreme Court on Thursday heard oral arguments in a pair of pension cases involving billions of dollars at stake. Unions for teachers and state employees want the high court to restore two benefits that were nixed due to their cost.

David Kohl / AP Photo/File Image

Washington’s Supreme Court will decide whether employers must accommodate the religious practices of their employees.

Justices heard oral arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit that involves four men who makes meals for airline passengers. Because they are not allowed to bring their own food to work, their employer, Gate Gourmet, provides them lunch. The men allege the meal choices did not accommodate their religious dietary restrictions. 

aidaneus / Flickr

Advocates for victims of domestic violence are praising a Washington Supreme Court decision that they say could help save lives.

The case concerns the serving of an anti-harassment order by the Federal Way Police Department on a man who later killed his girlfriend.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Socrates Bravo often works 15-hour days, and he'd like a raise.

But as a baggage handler at Sea-Tac International Airport, he doesn’t have many options. Traditionally, when workers want better wages, they join a union. So why don’t airport workers like Bravo just do that?

The reason: They’re stuck in a legal limbo under federal labor law. And that’s why they’ve turned to the ballot box instead.

A new law makes it easier for older adoptees born in Washington state to track down their birth parents.

While the law won’t go into effect until July, the state is trying to get the word out now about the changes.

Before legal marijuana in Washington hits store shelves, it will have to be tested. Special pot labs will check for potency, molds, foreign matter and bacteria like E. coli. It’s a key part of the recreational marijuana market approved by Washington voters last fall.

But setting the standards for how to lab-test pot turns out to be pretty complicated. And now some lab managers worry they won’t be ready in time.

AP Photo

The Washington state Supreme Court has sided with a wheelchair-bound pot user who lacked an official medical marijuana card.

In a split ruling Thursday, the high court said even non-card-holding patients can mount a medical necessity defense at trial.

zeraien / Flickr

A survey shows more than 60 percent of Seattle residents approve of the job the Seattle Police Department is doing. But it’s a far more problematic picture when you break down responses by race.

While the vast majority of whites and Asians give high marks to the Seattle Police Department, when you talk to African-Americans and Latinos, the approval rating drops dramatically.

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