Law

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

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington state is warning dozens of people who applied to run legal marijuana shops that their chance of getting a license is in jeopardy.

The Liquor Control Board on Wednesday began sending letters to 56 businesses. The board says they scored lucky numbers in lotteries conducted in April, putting them in a good position to win a coveted marijuana retail license, but they haven't moved forward with their applications since then.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The getaway driver in the murders of four Lakewood, Washington police officers is seeking a new trial. The case has made it to the Washington Supreme Court and on Tuesday, the justices heard arguments.

Darcus Allen, also known as Dorcus Allen, was convicted and sentenced to 420 years in prison as an accomplice to Maurice Clemmons, the Arkansas-parolee who murdered the four officers in a coffee shop in 2009. Clemmons was later shot and killed by a Seattle police officer. Prosecutors went after Allen who drove the getaway truck.

King Mountain Tobacco

A federal judge in eastern Washington has ruled a cigarette maker on the Yakama Indian Reservation owes $58 million in unpaid taxes and penalties.

The privately-owned tobacco company has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to assert a treaty right to trade tax free.

The U.S. Treasury Department went after King Mountain Tobacco Company for federal cigarette taxes unpaid since 2009. The cigarette factory is owned by a Yakama tribal member. The company's lawyers and the tribal government insist the reservation-based business is not subject to federal or state taxes.

Taber Andrew Bain
Flickr

The state of Washington now has until the end of the year to stop “boarding” mental health patients in non-psychiatric hospital beds. The Supreme Court on Friday granted a 120-day stay in a ruling that declared the practice of boarding illegal. 

Austin Jenkins

The Washington Supreme Court has heard the arguments, and it must now decide whether to hold the state in contempt for failing to submit a complete plan to fully fund schools.

The nine justices heard oral arguments Wednesday in a historic hearing that could result in sanctions against the state Legislature.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

In the first month of legal recreational marijuana sales in Washington, two welfare clients withdrew cash at pot stores using their electronic benefits transfer cards in violation of state law, according to the Office of Fraud and Accountability within the Department of Social and Health Services.

Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr

The state of Washington doesn’t deserve extra time to start following mental health laws, according to the lawyer representing psychiatric patients who successfully challenged a practice known as “boarding.”

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The city of Fife’s ban on recreational marijuana will stand, following a ruling by a Pierce County judge Friday.

Judge Ronald Culpepper said local jurisdictions have the right to opt out of marijuana legalization under state law. He added the pot shop owners who brought the suit did not meet the burden of proof necessary to overturn the ban in Fife.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A court case in Pierce County Friday will decide whether the city of Fife can ban marijuana businesses. But it could have a much larger side effect, putting Washington’s entire system for regulating legal pot in peril.

A handful of pot businesses are challenging Fife’s right to keep them out. The city is presenting two defenses. First, city officials say state law lets them opt out — a point on which they have backing from Washington’s attorney general. But if that fails, they have a second argument, which raises the stakes considerably: They say federal law trumps Initiative 502, and should strike most of it down.

Arizona State University/Shared Hope International

Men who are convicted of paying for sex with minors are unlikely to serve much time behind bars, says the finding of new research conducted by Arizona State University and released by Shared Hope International, an organization trying to stop sex trafficking.

The study examined 134 cases in Seattle, Phoenix, Portland and Baltimore-Washington, D.C.

Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr

The state of Washington will not have to start discharging severely mentally-ill patients starting this week. The Supreme Court on Monday put a hold on a recent ruling that says it’s illegal for the state to “board” psychiatric patients in non-psychiatric hospital beds.

Austin Jenkins

A federal judge has ruled that the way city council members are elected in Yakima, Washington disenfranchises Latino voters.

Last week’s surprising ruling comes exactly two years after the ACLU filed a federal Voting Rights Act lawsuit against the city.

Chris Lehman

The town of Gold Hill, Oregon is in turmoil. Two-thirds of its city council is the subject of a recall election come Monday.

What has some of the 1,200 residents of Gold Hill so riled up? The targeted city leaders had voted to approve a medical marijuana dispensary.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Legal marijuana grows are just getting started in Washington. But it’s the illegal ones that local, state and federal agents are searching out this month. It’s the annual summer marijuana eradication program.

Rogelio V. Solis / AP Photo

Washington’s Supreme Court may have just made it easier for prison inmates to try to get their convictions overturned through DNA testing. In a 6-to-3 ruling Thursday, the high court said inmates don’t have to show they’re likely innocent in order to win a post-conviction DNA test.

AP Photo

The Pentagon broke the law when it swapped five members of the Taliban for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho, according to the findings of an independent government investigation released Thursday.

The Government Accountability Office says officials should have given Congress 30 days' notice.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Changes are coming to the federal government's no-fly list, but it’s not yet clear what those changes will be.

It all stems from a ruling this summer by a federal judge in Portland. One of the plaintiffs was turned away from a flight after an airline agent said he was on the no-fly list. The man sued after he couldn't even get the government to confirm whether he was on the list, much less why.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson has intervened in a lawsuit over whether local governments can keep marijuana businesses out. Ferguson says if you want pot to stay legal in Washington, you should want cities to be allowed to ban it.  

The city of Fife, like many others around Washington, has said it won’t allow pot businesses within city limits. A couple of would-be entrepreneurs sued the city to overturn the ban.

The campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon kicked off a multi-million dollar advertising effort Monday.

New Approach Oregon appears to be following the same tactic used by the successful legalization effort in Washington state. The strategy seems to be that if you want to legalize pot, find someone like Richard Harris to make your case. He's the former director of Addictions and Mental Health Services for the state of Oregon.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Local law enforcement agencies are asking the public to “Tweet Smart” and be careful how they use social media in an emergency. Their concern is that too much information about the real-time movements of police could put officers in danger. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington state lawmakers acted legally when they cut pension benefits for teachers and other public employees in 2007 and 2011, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The two rulings, both reversing lower court decisions, carried high stakes for both sides. The pension cuts the high court upheld could save the state more than $10 billion over the next 25 years; an opposite ruling would've forced the Legislature to come up with that money.

Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons

The practice of "boarding" mental health patients in hospital emergency rooms is unlawful, the Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday.

The justices upheld a lower court ruling in the case of 10 psychiatric patients who were involuntarily detained under state law, then placed in non-psychiatric beds.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Passersby in several Seattle neighborhoods might notice the benign-looking billboards picturing a fit young couple with backpacks atop a mountain, or a bearded, flannel-clad man in front of a tent. You have to look a little closer to notice that the billboards are doing something brand new: openly advertising a cannabis company.

Kootenai County Sheriff's Office

A north Idaho teenager accused of killing his father and brother is no longer being held in solitary confinement at an adult county jail. A judge on Tuesday approved an agreement allowing 15-year-old Eldon Samuel to be moved back to juvenile detention, overriding a previous judge’s decision.

Nati Harnik / AP Photo

This week marks the one-year anniversary of a multi-state AMBER Alert involving a kidnapped California teenager.

A group of Idaho backcountry horsemen came across 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and her abductor James Lee DiMaggio last August. When the four horsemen got home, they saw the news of the kidnapping and called police. Anderson was ultimately rescued and DiMaggio was shot to death by a federal agent.

Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons

You’ve heard of your Miranda rights, but did you know that most state constitutions also give you a right to a bail bondsman?

In a unanimous ruling Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed that criminal defendants can go to a third-party, like a bondsman, who will put up bail for a fee.

Courtesy of the Ransdell family.

These days, you can often find contract firefighters on the front lines. They’re usually indistinguishable from government firefighters.

But a recent court ruling has made it clear: if they’re killed in the line of duty, their families are not eligible for federal survivor benefits.

Provided by Zach Featherstone

A Northwest medical school has been ordered to reinstate a deaf student who took the school to court after it wouldn't let him begin classes.

As KPLU reported last month, Zachary Featherstone sued Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima after it admitted him, then wouldn’t let him attend. The university said his admission might harm the training of other students and put patients at risk.

Kootenai County Sheriff's Office

In north Idaho, a 15-year-old boy sits in an isolated jail cell awaiting trial for murder. Eldon Samuel III is accused of shooting to death his father and younger brother in March

Juveniles accused of crimes like this are automatically charged as adults in Idaho. But now, Samuel’s lawyer and the ACLU are trying to get him moved out of solitary confinement at the adult county jail. They say his isolation amounts to “cruel and unusual” punishment.

Flickr

Of the 82 tickets Seattle police officers issued for public marijuana use in the first six months of this year, 38 of them — nearly half — went to people who were probably homeless.

For Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, that raises a question: Don't the economically-distressed need a place to go to smoke pot legally, without doing so in public?

"What we don't want to create is a situation where we literally are giving citations away to people that are going to end up having their record affected for engaging in activity that otherwise would be legal, except that it's just done outside," Licata said.

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