Law

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

Paula Wissel/KPLU

How do you convince someone not to text or talk on the cell phone while  driving?  How about an in-your- face reminder of what can happen if you do?  That's the tactic Seattle Police have been using this week. 

They've been parking a black Honda, with the driver's side smashed in, outside area high schools.  A Tumwater teenager, Heather Lerch, died in the car in February of 2010 while texting and driving.

It’s do-or-die week in the Washington Legislature. A budget deal will have to come together over the next several days if lawmakers are to finish business within the 30-day special session.

A vote on whether to build a tunnel to replace the aging Alaskan Way viaduct can take place, a King County Judge ruled today (Friday).

King County Superior Court Judge Laura Middaugh said some parts of the agreements that cover utilities, insurance, right-of-way and other issues can be in the referendum but others can't. She'll hear arguments next Friday on which parts could be included in an August vote and whether she has the authority to partially rewrite language in the referendum.

Lakewood gang sweep

May 12, 2011

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist has charged eleven people with gang-related crimes. The defendants are all alleged to be members or associates of the Tillicum Park Gangsters, also known as the TPG. The Lakewood Police Department says the TPG is a criminal street gang associated with the Tillicum neighborhood of Lakewood.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Governor Chris Gregoire says she wants all the states that allow medical marijuana to ask the federal government to reclassify the drug. She scheduled a conference call among those states Thursday. Meanwhile, a state Senate committee heard testimony Wednesday on a last ditch effort to pass an overhaul of Washington’s medical marijuana law.

Decades after the federal government stopped taking Native American children from their homes and putting them in boarding schools, Native families still face challenges staying together.

Paula Wissel/KPLU

A lesbian Air Force Major who was trying to get her job back has decided to retire instead.  Under an agreement reached with the Pentagon, flight nurse Margaret Witt will retire with full benefits and her discharge will be removed from her record.

ezlocal.com

A federal judge has ruled the city of Seattle can go ahead with its effort to limit free phone books on doorsteps. Yellow pages companies were trying to block the city’s anti-phone book plan.

Department of Homeland Security

Former U.S. Senator from Washington state, Slade Gorton,  says the killing of bin Laden is proof that intelligence agencies in the United States have improved.  Gorton sat on the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the terrorist attacks.

Refugees face a lot of stress.  They’re usually escaping war or poverty.  They land here unable to speak English and without a means of support.  But for some women, there’s the additional burden of domestic violence.

AP Photo

Tim Smith, who lives in south Tacoma,  is glad Osama bin Laden is dead.  He says he feels a certain amount of closure.  He says he's been involved with the bin Laden story since 1995.  That's the year he met bin Laden, sort of.

Schack Art Center

A big chunk of downtown Everett has been transformed into a spanking new arts district that should bring new life to this former lumber mill town.

The Daily Herald reports the new Schack Art Center anchors a three block arts district in the city. It's a multipurpose facility with a sleek, urban feel that will have a kiln and flame working studio, professional and student exhibit spaces and multipurpose classroom.

Paula Wissel/KPLU

Two pre-teen girls in King County have been charged with cyberstalking for allegedly posing as another girl on Facebook and posting sexually explicit pictures and messages.  If convicted of first degree computer trespass, the Middle School students face up to 30 days in juvenile detention.

Paula Wissel/KPLU

Police in Seattle and King County will soon be trained in the importance of talking.  They’ll learn to treat people with respect as a way of diffusing tense situations.  Law enforcement officials hope the new approach helps build trust with the community.

SuperFantastic (Bruce) / flickr.com

Why were "bath salts" for sale in head shops? Because they contained stimulants known as substituted cathinones that can affect user behavior and judgment. They've been growing in popularity as a legal alternative to cocaine or methamphetamine.

As of April 15th, they're no longer legal in Washington; the state Board of Pharmacy has approved emergency rules classifying the salts as Class I controlled substances, banning their manufacture, sale, delivery and possession.

The Washington legislature is headed for an overtime session. The Senate late Monday approved its plan to close a 5-billion dollar budget shortfall. But it is unlikely differences between the House and Senate can be reconciled by this Sunday’s Easter deadline.

U.S. Embassy, Afghanistan

Former Seattle Police Chief and current White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is reportedly in the running for Chicago’s police superintendent.

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

Lynn Aa'isha

It could be two decades before Seattle needs more jail beds for its misdemeanor inmates. City and King County leaders say that’s the expected result of a new agreement.

The deal extends an arrangement the city and county struck last year to house some of Seattle’s jail population in the county’s downtown facility. That brought an end to a controversial search for a new city jail site.

Mayor Mike McGinn says he’s glad that’s off the table for now:

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part four of our series "Living In Gangland" we learned how one Idaho man got out of a gang - and stayed out.

Paula Wissel

For the first time, the Seattle Public Library was the venue for a naturalization ceremony.  Eighty-six people from twenty-eight countries were sworn in as American citizens.

Austin Jenkins / N3

Teachers and other public school employees in Washington could face a 3% pay cut. That’s one of the key cost-saving measures contained in the State Senate’s two-year budget proposal. It was unveiled late Tuesday.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part three of "Living In Gangland," we profile a mother and daughter and their struggle with gangs.

Across the nation there are an estimated 750,000 gang members. That's according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Some of them are women, but more often, women are impacted as the mothers, sisters and girlfriends of gang memgers. They may not actively choose the gang life, but its perils affect them nonetheless.

When to call 9-1-1

Apr 12, 2011
Al Pavangkanan / flickr.com

The Washington State Patrol is reminding people they should call 9-1-1 only when they need police, fire, or emergency medical services. It may seem like simple common sense advice that everyone knows, but dispatchers frequently get calls asking for road conditions or driving directions. Frivolous calls like that can delay someone from getting the emergency help they need.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part two of "Living in Gangland," we bring you the story of the unincorporated town of Outlook, in Eastern Washington - and one woman who is fighting to get the town back.

When "Maria" gets off Interstate 82 and heads down the off ramp for Outlook – she starts praying -  that she’ll get home safe today.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part one of our series “Living In Gangland," we go on patrol with a Washington Fish and Wildlife cop. 

Gang violence is mostly a big city problem. But in parts of the rural Northwest, police are grappling with gang rivalries, graffiti and even drive-by shootings.

Just ask Darin Smith, chief of police in Royal City, Washington, population 2,000.

Still image courtesy of Anzamarch (Junko) / YouTube

Clean it up or close it down – that's the choice for the new owner of a vacant property in South Seattle that's become notorious for noisy raves. 

Police have declared The Citadel a chronic nuisance. The boxy warehouse building was turned into a music venue by owner Steve Rauf, who says the dance parties have brought in much-needed revenue. 

Court fines issued to felons in Washington vary according to the criminal’s ethnicity and location. That’s the conclusion of a University of Washington study published online in American Sociological Review.

Flickr user Gexydaf / flickr.com

A little more than a year after 36 members and associates of the Hilltop Crips were arrested and prosecuted, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist is declaring "a victory for the community". Lindquist says the sweep has dramatically reduced incidents of gang violence. 

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

"We have nothing to hide" – those were the words of Seattle's chief of police yesterday.  The department is under fire. 

The questions stem from a federal review of the fatal shooting of a first nation's wood carver last August, as well as what many people perceive as a prior pattern of  abusive violence against minority groups.

Pages