Law

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

An Idaho woman who was prosecuted on felony charges for ending a pregnancy is now challenging state anti-abortion laws in federal court. It's the first constitutional challenge to a so-called "fetal pain" law that several states passed recently.

Police in Pocatello, Idaho, said Jennie McCormack ordered medication online to terminate her pregnancy at around 20 weeks. Under a 1972 state law, however, it's illegal to have an abortion unless it's performed by a doctor.

The Washington State Attorney General wants a top provider of online adult sex ads to prove it’s operating legally, calls Backpage.com a hub for human trafficking.

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna and 45 other attorneys general today called for information about how Backpage.com presumably attempts to remove advertising for sex trafficking, especially ads that could involve minors.

Meanwhile, Snohomish County has received a $450,000 federal grant to combat child sex trafficking.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Police in Vancouver, British Columbia, say a human foot inside a running shoe has washed ashore, the latest in roughly a dozen such cases since 2007.

On the day she was killed, University of Idaho graduate student Katy Benoit met with university officials about the complaint she had filed against former assistant professor Ernesto Bustamante, and university officials cautioned her to remain vigilant and seek out help if she had any safety concerns.

Prosecutors in a federal hate crime case in Spokane are asking prospective jurors if they have ties to racist and militia groups. The man accused of planting a backpack bomb along Spokane's Martin Luther King Day parade route in January has been linked to white supremacists.

Kevin Harpham's name shows up in connection with more than 1,000 posts made to a Neo-Nazi web forum. And the Southern Poverty Law Center says he was once a member of the racist group, the National Alliance.

BOISE – Idaho prison officials dismantled a sweat lodge Wednesday. it was used mainly by Native Americans to worship.

Prisoners have used the sweat lodge at the South Idaho Correctional Institution in Kuna for decades. Deputy Chief of Prisons Jeff Zmuda says they are remodeling the outdoor area and removed the lodge for safety and security reasons.

Friends and family of University of Idaho graduate student Kathryn Benoit, who was killed Monday night in Moscow, are planning memorial observances, as the investigation into her death continues.

When the 22 year old Benoit was killed by multiple gunshots outside her residence in Moscow Monday night, her roommates called 911:

911 AUDIO: “Can you tell me exactly what happened?” “I don’t know. We were in the house cooking and we heard shots.”

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has not given up on the idea of a mileage tax paid by electric vehicle owners. The tax is meant to offset the lack of gas taxes paid by people who drive electric cars.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

SHELTON, Wash. – The recent murder trial in Seattle of Isaiah Kalebu made headlines for the brutality of his crime – the rape and butcher knife attack of two women in their home that left one of them dead.

But the trial also attracted attention because of Kalebu’s volatile outbursts in court and suicide attempts. Now he’s headed to prison – for life.

RICHLAND, Wash. — Six workers at a Hanford radioactive waste disposal site decided to quit rather than submit to drug testing after a baggie of marijuana was found in building at the landfill called the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility.

A University of Idaho graduate student was killed in an off-campus shooting Monday night in Moscow.

The homicide occurred on Lilly Street in Moscow, a neighborhood familiar to the University of Idaho community because of its close proximity to campus. Moscow police say the victim’s identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The case of the "Bad Hair Bandit" raises questions some prison experts say haven't been fully addressed in the correctional system. Police believe a woman from north Idaho is the wigged robber who stole money from banks in Tacoma, Spokane, Lake Oswego and other cities on the West Coast.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Nearly 300,000 Washington drivers currently have suspended licenses because they failed to pay their traffic tickets. The Department of Licensing on Monday introduced a new tool to help them get their licenses back.

Dan Jordan / Flickr

The Lynnwood police chief concedes the department depends on traffic ticket camera revenue and probably would lose seven or eight officers without it.

Chief Steve Jensen previously downplayed the significance of camera ticket revenue and extolled safety benefits.

Victims of clergy sex abuse will get letters of apology, in addition to checks, from a major bankruptcy case resolved this week. In total, the payments amount to $166 million.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The family of slain Lakewood police officer Tina Griswold has filed a notice to sue the state of Washington over its handling of Maurice Clemmons. He's the Arkansas parolee who gunned down Griswold and three of her fellow officers in a coffee shop in 2009. Clemmons was later shot dead by Seattle police.

Two Renton officers have been demoted for posting a cartoon to YouTube that makes fun of the staff and policies of a new jail in South King County.

Deputy Police Chief, Charles Marsalisi and police sergeant Bill Judd, were each knocked down a rank after their involvement in the video came to light.

King County prosecutors have spent nearly $700,000 on two active death penalty cases, but the defense cost is even higher — $4.3 million and climbing.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg told The Seattle Times death penalty opponents are trying to hold off executions by running up the bills for investigators, forensics and expert witnesses.

Evan Vucci / Associated Press

The new U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, says it’s his Washington roots that made him what he is today.

Ambassador Locke left his position as U.S. Commerce Secretary when he was sworn in as Ambassador to China this month.

WENATCHEE, Wash. – Wenatchee police have contacted a gang that appeared to be the target of a fire that killed two children and warned it not to retaliate.

Sgt. John Kruse says the gang was told retaliation would be very detrimental to solving the homicide.

Chelan County Coroner Wayne Harris says the boys, 4 and 6 years old, died of smoke inhalation.

The Wenatchee World reports the fire is being investigated as arson.

The Renton City Prosecutor wants to send a cartoonist to jail for mocking the police department in a series of animated Internet videos, reports KIRO-TV.

A Seattle-area Muslim is suing his former employer because he says he was fired from his job as a security guard for refusing to shave his beard, which he wears for religious reasons.

An expert on the infamous airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper is dubious about the latest suspect to emerge in the 40-year-old case. An Oklahoma woman went public this week with the claim her late uncle was the mysterious hijacker.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington voters will have three initiatives to decide this year.

The secretary of state's office said Monday that three proposals have qualified for the ballot. Officials completed certification Monday, finding that each had well more than the 241,000 valid signatures needed to qualify.

Tacoma is cracking down on minors who stay out past midnight, and city leaders are counting on teens to get the word out.

They just kicked off a contest that asks kids to make mini-movies about the city's curfew law. While they want minors to know the curfew is no joke, they say they’d love to see funny videos about it.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Lapses in training and “serious” safety violations may have contributed to the murder of a Washington correctional officer earlier this year. Those are the findings of a six month investigation by Washington’s workplace safety watchdog.

The agency issued citations and fines Wednesday against the Department of Corrections.

Alan Cleaver / Flickr

The gang-related shooting on Saturday at a custom-car show in Kent that left 13 people injured has regional law enforcement officials worried that some gang activity has moved from Seattle to its southern suburbs.

“It was gang related,” Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas told KING TV about the shooting. “No doubt in my mind. … If we don’t get out in front of it, we’re going to chase the gunfire.”

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

BURIEN, Wash. – In Washington, nearly 300,000 drivers currently have suspended licenses – not because they've driven drunk or committed a hit-and-run, but because they failed to pay their traffic tickets.

You're about to meet three of them. Like a lot of people in their situation, they continued to drive. And that has led to more tickets, more debt and even jail.

Hundreds of new laws become effective in Washington state today - more than 300 in all.

The new laws cover everything from medical marijuana, human trafficking and DUIs to the counting of overseas ballots and foreclosure fairness.

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