Law

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

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.

Washington's a top destination for traffickers dealing in forced labor and sex crimes.  New legislation goes into effect today that will strengthen the state’s current human trafficking law.

Courtesy of the U.S. Army

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The credibility of the prosecution's star witness is the key issue at the moment in a war crimes case unfolding at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma. A second pre-trial hearing got underway Thursday for the alleged ringleader of a group of Washington-based soldiers accused of murdering Afghan civilians.

This second hearing is a chance for the defense to call witnesses who were not previously available. Chief among them: Army Private Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska.

The Washington State Patrol sent out a reminder today that starting at midnight vehicles driving by someone arrested for DUI will be towed and held for 12 hours.

Officers will not have discretion to let a sober friend take over the wheel, or a family member pick up the vehicle at roadside, the patrol wrote in a press release.

"Good Lord, how did we get here ..."

Seattle has become the first city in Washington to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. A number of other cities have banned the businesses outright.  The Seattle City Council decided to take the opposite approach after efforts to regulate medical pot at the state level failed.

Flickr

The city of Seattle is getting closer to regulating medical pot dispensaries.

The Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee of the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a measure that would require the marijuana shops to comply with city building codes, zoning ordinances and fair employment laws.

Flickr

With roughly 25,000 Seattleites “legally” smoking marijuana for medical reasons, the city council has decided to step in where Gov. Chris Gregoire dared not tread. The city will begin holding hearings on an ordinance for regulating the growing and sale of medical marijuana.

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) — A mistrial has been declared in a Kitsap County drug case after a juror was overheard expressing a desire to punch prominent Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne in the nose.

The Kitsap Sun reports that Browne, whose high-profile clients have included "Barefoot Bandit" Colton Harris-Moore, repeatedly sparred with Superior Court Judge Theodore Spearman during the trial. Browne reportedly ignored the judge's order that he keep his objections to a single word and was twice fined $500.

A federal grand jury has returned a nine-count indictment against two men charged in a plot to attack a military recruiting center in Seattle.

The city of Kent has put a stop to medical marijuana dispensaries in the area, at least for now. And, the Everett Herald reports, three cities in Snohomish County are moving to delay licensing of collective gardens for growing marijuana for medical purposes.

A fugitive wanted in connection with the 2001 firebombing of the University of Washington's horticulture center is now in federal custody.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s former prisons chief has admitted to an extramarital affair with a subordinate. And Seattle TV stations are airing video they say shows Eldon Vail leaving a motel with that staffer. Vail resigned suddenly last Friday.

On Tuesday Starting today, two specially equipped Seattle police vans had started scanning up to 20,000 license plates per day, hunting for vehicles with four or more parking tickets in order to give them the “boot.”

Topping the city’s most-wanted list has to be the vehicle with 263 violations associated with it amounting to more than $25,000 owed, according to a list of citations in the City of Seattle’s “parking scofflaw business plan.”

Second on the most-wanted list must be the two cars with 184 tickets each. Nearly 100 cars have been ticketed 50 times or more, according to the city. Officials say more than 20,000 cars are considered eligible for the boot, a device attached to a vehicle wheel making it unusable.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington has begun to deport some prison inmates before their sentences are up. The new program is expected to save $2 million a year. But the deportations have immigrant rights advocates concerned.

Washington DOC

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington's prisons chief has resigned suddenly citing personal reasons. The announcement late Friday came the same week an inmate was fatally shot during a prison escape attempt.

Governor Chris Gregoire's staff says she did not ask Eldon Vail to tender his resignation.

A man accused in the sexual assault and stabbing of a lesbian couple in their Seattle home has been found guilty of aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary.

A King County County Superior Court jury convicted Isaiah Kalebu on Friday, two days after jurors began deliberations.

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