Law

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

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.

Associated Press

One of the three teens convicted of killing a popular Seattle street musician in 2008 continues to make headlines for his tangles with the law. Billy Chambers – who's now an adult – was most recently locked up for hit-and-run. It turns out he did not qualify for supervision by a juvenile parole officer because of state budget cuts.

The Washington Department of Corrections says one inmate was killed Wednesday during an escape attempt at the Clallam Bay Corrections Facility.

Spokesman Chad Lewis says that just after 10 a.m., a corrections officer was taken hostage by a prisoner with a pair of scissors. At the same time, another prisoner drove a forklift through the doors of the work area and into the prison fence.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Department of Corrections failed to adequately supervise Maurice Clemmons from the day he arrived in Washington from Arkansas. That's the conclusion of a former corrections supervisor who's now an expert witness in a new lawsuit against the Department.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Pulitzer prize winning journalist who is in this country illegally managed to obtain a Washington driver license – even though he doesn't live in Washington. How did he do it?

This week in the New York Times Magazine, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas revealed himself as an illegal immigrant from the Philippines. Part of his story involves obtaining a Washington driver license earlier this year – even though he doesn't reside in the state.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Two men allegedly planning to attack a military recruiting station in Seattle have detention hearings set for Wednesday.

The two men – one from Seattle and one from Los Angeles – appeared in federal court yesterday to hear the charges filed against them. Their court-appointed lawyers declined to comment.

UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Western District of Washington

June 23, 2011

TWO MEN CHARGED IN PLOT TO ATTACK SEATTLE MILITARY PROCESSING CENTER
Defendants Sought Firearms and Grenades to Attack Complex where Enlistees Report

The Justice Department says two men have been arrested in a plot to attack a military recruiting station in Seattle with machine guns and grenades.

Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, also known as Joseph Anthony Davis, of Seattle, and Walli Mujahidh, also known as Frederick Domingue Jr., of Los Angeles, were arrested Wednesday night.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

It isn’t against the law to sip a martini. So why should you face jail time for lighting up a joint? Supporters of the latest initiative to legalize marijuana say both activities should be treated the same.

Liquor in Washington is heavily regulated. And that’s what the group New Approach Washington wants the state to do with pot.

Null Value / Flickr

If you’ve witnessed a crime, you’ll swear you can accurately identify the person who did it. But, there’s a good chance you’re wrong, especially if that person is of a different race. Still, jurors believe eyewitness accounts.

And, in Washington state, the law doesn't allow judges to tell juries about the problems associated with cross-racial eyewitness identification. One Court of Appeals judge says that's wrong.

masonvotes / Flickr photo

Young people have an easier time voting in Washington State than anywhere else in the country. That’s according to a survey by Rock the Vote, a group that encourages youth to participate in the political process.

It found many state laws mesh with the needs of young voters, but there’s still room for improvement.

Associated Press

MISSOULA, Mont. — Authorities thought their dayslong manhunt for a fugitive former anti-government militia leader was reaching a climax as they closed in on a remote Montana forest camp Wednesday after hours of surveillance.

But when officers entered the clearing they discovered that the man they had been watching was a squatter — and that David Burgert is still on the run.

The Washington State Patrol says some evidence was likely damaged by a sprinkler malfunction at its crime lab in Seattle. The patrol says the leak Monday occurred in a freezer used to store evidence.

Seattle firefighters shut off the sprinklers, and the evidence was moved to dry out. Lab manager Jim Tarver says workers are still determining the extent of the damage. Then they'll have to tell police and prosecutors.

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