Law

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

Judge: Some Immigrants Can't Be Held Without Bond

Mar 12, 2014

A federal judge in Seattle says certain immigrants can't be held in detention without bond hearings.

Tuesday's ruling stems from a complaint filed by immigrant advocates on behalf of three men who were held for months at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma without a chance of a bond hearing, in which a judge determines whether immigrants present a flight risk or a danger to the community.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

President Barack Obama wants to expand a program pioneered in Washington to reform probation and parole. The new state law dramatically changed its approach to ex-offenders, and even the experts who back the new approach have been surprised at the promising results.

In the past, ex-offenders on probation or parole could often rack up a bunch of violation before they’d be punished. And by then the sanctions could be harsh: many months in jail.

The idea behind the new approach, called "swift and certain," is that a minor violation triggers an immediate but moderate punishment, such as a couple of days in jail for failing a drug test.

Brennan Linsley / AP Photo

Washington and Colorado are embracing their role as “laboratories of democracy” when it comes to drug policy, but as Washington’s marijuana consultant points out, “Dr. Frankenstein had a laboratory, too.”

AP Photo

A measure to overhaul the state's medical marijuana system cleared the Senate as the state moves to merge that largely unregulated market with the still-developing legal recreational market.

Brennan LinsleyA / AP Photo

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians has passed a resolution that rejects marijuana use and legalization efforts in the region.

The resolution, drawn up at the groups recent Winter Convention, points out that Native Tribes have higher rates of marijuana and drug use than other ethnicities in the U.S., and the negative impacts of marijuana use can cause many health related problems.

Ed Andrieski / AP Photo

Washington state's first legal marijuana license is going to a guy named Green.

The Associated Press has learned that Spokane grower Sean Green, the chief executive of a company called Kouchlock Productions, is due to be issued a producer-processor license at the state Liquor Control Board meeting in Olympia on Wednesday morning.

Silvia Izquierdo / AP Photo

Washington's Supreme Court says people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the text messages they send from their phones — even if they can't know for sure who might be reading them.

Paula Wissel

Former state Sen. Debbie Regala says when her brother-in-law was strangled in 1980, her family had to ponder what they would want to have happen when the murderer was found.

She says she was angry, but in the end, it didn't change her long-standing opposition to capital punishment.

"Executing them doesn't make me feel any better. It doesn't bring them [the victims] back. It doesn't heal the terrible hurt that you feel," she said during an interview in her Tacoma home.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Family members of murder victims gathered in Olympia Wednesday to express anguish over Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to halt the state’s death penalty.

They testified before lawmakers considering curbs on the governor’s authority to grant reprieves. They told of their daughters and sisters, a mother, an aunt all taken cruelly from them. And they expressed outrage that they should be forced to pay, as taxpayers, for the killers to live.

Gov. Inslee Signs Immigrant Financial Aid Bill

Feb 26, 2014
Taylor Winkel

Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a measure that expands state college financial aid to students in the country without legal status.

In a highly divided Legislature, passage of the bill represents a big win for immigrant advocates. It's also the first bill to become law this session.

A judge has thrown out true-crime author Ann Rule's defamation lawsuit against a weekly Seattle newspaper.

Rule sued the Seattle Weekly and freelance author Rick Swart over a piece published in 2011 that accused her of "sloppy storytelling" and criticized her book about an Oregon woman who killed her husband.

AP Photo

Within the next year, marijuana taxes will start arriving in Washington state coffers. But how much money can the state realistically expect to take in from legal, recreational pot sales? Washington’s revenue forecaster recently unveiled his first estimate, but the numbers may be a bit hazy.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Fewer teenagers in Washington say drinking alcohol is wrong, according to a survey taken after the state privatized liquor sales by two Northwest public health researchers.

The finding comes as Oregon voters are being asked to sign petitions for a similar liquor sales privatization.

AP Photo

President Barack Obama recently ordered a minimum wage increase for federal contractors. Now Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says he may consider a similar executive order at the state level.

The Democrat made his comments Friday after a meeting with the president at the White House where minimum wage was discussed.

AP Photo

Come summer, marijuana stores will open for business across Washington. The new legal pot market is modeled on a system the state adopted 80 years ago when Prohibition ended.

I wondered if there are other parallels between the legalization of alcohol then and marijuana today.

Eric Gay / AP Photo

Oregon's Attorney General says she won't defend the state against federal lawsuits challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban. A ruling in the case could come this spring. 

Ten years ago Oregon voters changed the state's constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

AP Photo

Applicants to grow recreational pot in Washington could have their state licenses in hand two weeks for now. But they won’t be able to produce as much marijuana as they originally thought.

Washington’s Liquor Control Board Wednesday instituted new limits designed to avoid a market glut.

AP Photo

Economic forecasters are predicting that the state's new legal recreational marijuana market will bring nearly $190 million to state coffers over a four-year period starting in mid-2015.

The forecast released by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council on Wednesday showed that $51 million in revenue is expected for the 2015-2017 biennium from marijuana production and sales. An additional $138.5 million is expected for the next two-year budget.

In 2010, Idaho started licensing midwives under the Midwifery Practice Act to allow midwives to legally deliver babies in homes and at birthing centers.

Idaho midwives say the move to officially license midwives brought the practice out of the shadows. But the law was only for a five-year trial period. Now the Idaho Midwifery Council is now asking lawmakers to renew and extend the law for another 10 years before it sunsets this summer.

Ashley Gross

A street in Seattle’s central area has been named Reverend Dr. S. McKinney Avenue, for the local civil rights leader.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an ordinance  Wednesday, February 12, designating 19th Avenue, from East Union to East Madison Street, Reverend Dr. S. McKinney Avenue.

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

No one will be executed in the state of Washington as long as Gov. Jay Inslee is in office, the governor said Tuesday.

"Equal justice under the law is the primary responsibility of our state. And in death penalty cases, I am not convinced equal justice is being served," Inslee said.

The governor, who previously supported the death penalty, said he decided to issue the moratorium after a months-long review of strong arguments on both sides of the issue, as well as a visit to the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla where nine inmates are currently on death row. But Inslee said his decision wasn’t based on just those nine people.

Paula Wissel

A report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and Columbia Legal Services claims court imposed fees in Washington state have resulted in modern-day debtors’ prisons.

The report documents cases of people being locked up because they couldn't make payments on their fines.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

The Tulalip Tribes will be among the first Indian tribes in the country to have criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit domestic violence on the reservation.

The Snohomish County tribe, along with the Umatilla in Oregon and the Pascua Yaqui of Arizona, have been granted the authority under a pilot program of the Violence Against Women Act.

<< Jonny Boy >> / Flickr

Christian Scientists who treat their sick children with faith healing instead of medical care have special protection under Washington law. But that could soon change.

Lawmakers are considering whether to repeal the Christian Science exemption following the death of a teenager in north-central Washington.

Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

This week, Amanda Knox was found guilty, again, by an Italian court.

She was found guilty of murdering her roommate Meredith Kercher in 2009, though the verdict was overturned two years later. Last year, Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, its highest court, sent the case back to an appeals court and that court found her guilty.

State Senate Passes Its Own Version Of Dream Act

Jan 31, 2014
<< Jonny Boy >> / Flickr

The state’s undocumented high school graduates may be one step closer to accessing financial aid.

On Friday the Senate passed a measure to make State Need Grants available to students who came to this country illegally with their parents.

AP Photo

An appeals court in Florence on Thursday upheld the guilty verdict against U.S. student Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend for the 2007 murder of her British roommate. Knox was sentenced to 28 1/2 years in prison, raising the specter of a long legal battle over her extradition.

After nearly 12 hours of deliberations, the court reinstated the guilty verdict first handed down against Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in 2009. The verdict had been overturned in 2011 and the pair freed from prison, but Italy's supreme court vacated that decision and sent the case back for a third trial in Florence.

Jessica Robinson

Gay rights advocates say legislation introduced this week in Idaho would undermine local anti-discrimination ordinances passed in seven Idaho cities. The new bills are aimed protecting religious people from activities they say violate their beliefs.

Republican Idaho lawmakers are responding to incidents elsewhere in the Northwest. A florist in Richland, Wash., faces lawsuits for refusing to provide the flowers for a same-sex wedding. In Oregon, investigators found a baker in Gresham who made a similar stand violated the state's civil rights laws.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The next time a death row inmate is executed by lethal injection in Washington, witnesses will see more of the process. Washington’s secretary of corrections confirmed Wednesday that a closed-circuit camera will capture the moment the needle goes in.

City of Seattle

Seattle is suing Total Outdoor, a national advertising company, over the giant ads the company puts on the sides of buildings in the city. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says the signs are a flagrant violation of a long-standing Seattle ordinance meant to limit billboards in the city.

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