Law

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

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that unless police have a warrant, they generally cannot search data on a cellphone seized from someone who has been arrested.

The decision is seen as a sweeping win for privacy advocates.

"Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. "With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life.'

Rick Bowmer / AP Photo

A federal judge in Portland on Tuesday ordered the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to come up with new rules for the government's no-fly list. The court found travelers labeled as potential terrorists had been deprived of their constitutional rights to due process.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The man charged with killing one student and seriously wounding two others on the campus of Seattle Pacific University on June 5 has pleaded not guilty.

On Monday attorneys for Aaron Rey Ybarra, 26, filed a notice of intent to pursue a not guilty by reason of insanity defense. The move doesn't mean they will go that route, just that they may use an insanity defense.

Provided by Kate Pflaumer

Editor's Note: “Senior Thesis” is a special week-long series that brings together venerable veterans in various fields with university students hoping to forge a career in the same field.

At first glance, you might think a former U.S. attorney and a man who once sued the government for spying on him wouldn’t agree on much.

But Kate Pflaumer, U.S. attorney for western Washington during the Clinton administration, and Philip Chinn, a recent graduate of Seattle University School of Law, share a passion for trial work and more.

Adam Cotterell

When 9-year-old Alexis Carey gets home from school, her mom helps her into her favorite bean bag chair. Clare Carey kneels down to remove her daughter’s foot braces, which she needs to walk. 

“She’s in them all day, so when she gets home from school, we just kind of give her a break,” Clare said.

Alexis can’t talk, but she’s quick to smile. Parents Clare and Michael Carey say their daughter is a happy kid, but can’t talk or master potty-training.

AP Photo

Amanda Knox's lawyers have formally asked Italy's court of last resort to review the U.S. student's appeals court conviction for the 2007 murder of her British roommate.

Defense lawyer Luciano Ghirga said the paperwork was submitted last Thursday to the Rome-based Court of Cassation.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, says the United States should be doing more to free a Renton woman being held in a Mexican prison. Nestora Salgado was arrested last August in the state of Guerrero, Mexico after helping to organize a local militia of indigenous people — something allowed under Mexican law.

Appearing alongside Salgado’s daughter and husband at a news conference in Seattle, Smith said he’s done what he can to make Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration aware of Nestora Salgado’s situation in Mexico.

Jessica Robinson

Adoptions are usually private affairs, sealed forever in court documents and known only to the families involved. But a recent decision by Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare exploded into the public sphere.

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

Nearly 30 juvenile killers currently serving life sentences without the possibility of parole in Washington could be eligible for release in the future, thanks to a new state law that took effect this month.

The law was passed in response to a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court ruled that automatic sentences of life without parole for juvenile killers are unconstitutional. In response, the Washington state Legislature this year passed a law that requires new, individualized sentences for these aggravated murderers.

Washington’s Clemency Board has recommended the release of another three-strikes offender serving life without parole. The 3-to-0 vote Friday followed testimony from King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg who supported the petition for mercy.

Snohomish County Flickr

The deadly Oso landslide in March has resulted in a blizzard of legal claims against the state of Washington.

As of Tuesday, the state’s risk management office reports it has received 38 tort claims, which are precursors to a lawsuit. Claims have also been filed against Snohomish County.

AP Photo

This is the week undocumented students in Washington will become eligible for state college tuition aid. The “Real Hope Act” is just one of dozens of new state laws that take effect Thursday, 90 days after the Washington legislature adjourned.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The gunman who allegedly killed a student on the campus of  Seattle Pacific University last week told police he had stopped taking his anti-depressant medicine because he wanted to "feel the hate."

That was among the revelations released in charging documents filed against Aaron Rey Ybarra in King County Superior Court on Tuesday.

Paula Wissel

Navy recruiters have noticed a disturbing trend among young people looking to join up: too many of them are obese.

Rear Admiral Annie Andrews, who is in charge of recruiting for the U.S. Navy, says obesity "has actually surpassed even those with drug use" as a reason for disqualification. In addition to the high rate of obesity, she says, some potential recruits are just plain out of shape. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington’s Attorney General is reminding employers they may not discriminate against same-sex spouses when it comes to health coverage.

Thursday’s warning follows a discrimination complaint earlier this year against O’Reilly Auto Parts.

Steve Dykes / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court won't block same-sex marriages in Oregon. The high court on Wednesday turned down a request to halt gay marriages in the state. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Confirmation hearings begin today for Kathleen O'Toole, the woman nominated to be the new Seattle police chief. Kathleen O’Toole will appear before the Seattle City Council Public Safety Committee.

One issue stirring controversy among the top brass in the Seattle Police Department is O’Toole’s plan to hire assistants from outside the department.

More than 100 Seattle police officers have filed a federal civil rights complaint against city and federal authorities.

They allege the agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Seattle restricting police  use of force has put both police and the public in danger.

Paula Wissel

A jury has found two men guilty of stealing 4.3 miles of copper wiring from Sound Transit's Light Rail System in Seattle. It’s believed to be the largest theft of metal in Washington State.

Apparently, the thieves undoing was a popular energy drink.

Courtesy of the Hak family.

A man being held in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma could help save his brother’s life by giving him a kidney.

But that won’t happen if the U.S. goes forward with plans to deport the man to Cambodia, a country he left as a baby. The case shines a light on what some consider the U.S.'s overly harsh deportation policies.

Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons

Washington employers must “reasonably” accommodate the religious practices of their employees, according to a ruling issued by the Washington Supreme Court Thursday.

The case involves four men employed by a company that makes meals for airline passengers at Sea-Tac Airport.

An effort to overturn one Idaho city's gay rights ordinance appears to have failed by a slim margin. The anti-discrimination law in Pocatello was upheld Tuesday night by a projected margin of 90 votes.

City councils in seven Idaho cities have barred employers, landlords and most businesses from discriminating on basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. But Pocatello's ordinance was the first in the state to be put to a popular vote.

Like many medical marijuana patients, Greg Duran says he drives in fear, knowing he could be busted at any moment for driving under the influence.

As he merges onto Interstate 70 north of Denver, Duran explains that he's probably over the state's new marijuana limit: 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood of THC, the psychoactive chemical in pot.

"It would be devastating if I lost my car. It would change everything," Duran says.

AP Photo

Marijuana growers in Washington and Colorado and other states cannot use irrigation water from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to grow their crops.

The agency on Tuesday said that marijuana growing remains illegal under federal law, so irrigation water from its dams cannot be used to grow pot even in states that have legalized recreational or medical use of the drug.

Steve Dykes / AP Photo

Same-sex couples are getting married in Oregon now that a federal judge has overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.

Shortly after noon on Monday, the news broke to crowds gathered in Portland that U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled the law violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.

Jessica Robinson

Voters in Pocatello, Idaho will decide the fate of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance Tuesday.

Pocatello is one of seven cities in Idaho that have passed laws aimed at protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people, but this is the first time one of these measures has been put to a popular vote.

Chris Lehman

Same-sex couples can now marry legally in Oregon after a federal judge Monday overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.

Weddings began almost immediately. County clerks started issuing marriage licenses minutes after U.S. District Judge Michael McShane issued his opinion. Same-sex couples lined up outside marriage license offices in Portland and Eugene in anticipation of a ruling in their favor.

Dam421 / Wikimedia Commons

Washington Fish and Wildlife officials are recommending that an Ilwaco woman face charges for allegedly feeding wild bears.

Wildlife agents have removed seven problematic black bears from the woman’s neighborhood and had to euthanize five of them since last fall.

The 70-year-old retiree could be the first person charged under a new law that bans the feeding of large wild carnivores. The Washington Legislature made that a misdemeanor in 2012.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Nearly five years have passed since Maurice Clemmons gunned down four Lakewood police officers in a coffee shop. Clemmons’ aunt and cousin were convicted of helping him after the murders.

Now, their case is before the Washington Supreme Court on appeal. Oral arguments are scheduled for Thursday.

Chris Lehman

A federal judge in Eugene, Oregon has denied a national group's attempt to defend Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said the National Organization of Marriage failed to prove why it should be allowed to intervene in the case.

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