Law

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

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.

KPLU

Boeing has asked a Seattle judge to dismiss a case brought by the National Labor Relations Board that accuses the plane maker of breaking the law when it built a non-union production line in South Carolina.

Associated Press

In June of 1971, President Richard Nixon officially declared a "war on drugs."  Drug abuse, he said, was "public enemy No. 1."

Forty years later, few would call the war a success.  Even President Obama says we need to stop looking at our drug problem as a war. But, some former top cops say the President isn't doing enough to actually end the war.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Last week, Boeing opened a new plant in South Carolina, where it's putting the second assembly line for the 787 Dreamliner.

That’s led to a fight between the aerospace giant and the National Labor Relations Board. The nation’s top enforcer of labor laws filed a complaint against Boeing in April. Proceedings in the case begin Tuesday in Seattle. 

The NLRB alleges Boeing built the second assembly line for the Dreamliner in South Carolina as retaliation for past strikes by the Machinists union in Washington state.  And that, it says, is against the law.

Associated Press

Colton Harris-Moore, who gained a popular following as the "Barefoot Bandit," has pleaded not guilty to all charges in federal court in Seattle.

The 20-year-old is accused of a two-year cross-country burglary spree in stolen cars, boats and planes — some of the crimes allegedly committed while he was barefoot. He entered his plea Thursday.

The lawyer for the young man known as the Barefoot Bandit says plea negotiations have hit a snag as federal prosecutors balk at allowing him to sell the rights to his sensational tale, even if money from movie or book deals is used to repay his victims.

Colton Harris-Moore led authorities on a two-year game of cat-and-mouse in stolen boats, planes and cars that finally ended with his arrest in the Bahamas last summer.

His lawyer, John Henry Browne, says no final decision has been made.

A woman who survived a horrific rape and stabbing in her Seattle home two years ago is telling jurors about her partner, who died in the attack.

The woman took the stand Wednesday afternoon in the trial of Isaiah Kalebu, who is charged in the case. Kalebu has been barred from the trial due to prior outbursts and was not in the courtroom.

The woman frequently flashed a broad smile as she told the jury of how her relationship with Teresa Butz blossomed. But she broke down when she described how the two planned to have children together.

Associated Press

Maybe you didn't get the word that the law changed last June: Using your cellphone while driving -- unless you have a hands-free connection -- is a primary offense in Washington.

That means officers can pull you over and write you a $124 ticket, even if you're otherwise obeying the traffic laws. It used to be only a secondary offense, meaning police had to see you speeding, or making an illegal turn, for example, before ticketing you.

The Seattle Times has figured out that Seattle Police have issued about six times as many cellphone tickets since the law changed, compared to the previous year, and the Washington State Patrol has issued about five times more tickets. 

Associated Press

The details are heartbreaking. A lesbian couple subject to unspeakable horror after a stranger breaks into their home in the middle of the night. The high profile case happened in 2009 in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle. Now, the man accused of rape and murder, Isaiah Kalebu,  is on trial.

The young man accused of one of Seattle's most heinous murders in recent years sat strapped in a heavy green smock, his hands and legs shackled to the restraint chair used to bring him to court. He looked up and told the judge, "Get the (expletive) out of here."

Mic Smith / AP

Three employees at Boeing Co.'s North Charleston, South Carolina plant want roles in a lawsuit filed by the National Labor Relations Board.

Meredith Going Sr., Dennis Murray and Cynthia Ramaker say in a motion filed Wednesday that they are sure to lose their jobs if the federal agency is successful in its suit against Boeing and the plant shuts down.

Pages