Paula Wissel

Law & Justice Reporter

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.

Paula's most memorable moment at KNKX: “Interviewing NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr about his ability to put current events in historical context. It’s something I aspire to.”

Ways to Connect

buzzlab / flkr/Creative Commons

The Presiding Judge of King County Superior Court says open air drug dealing and harassment outside the county courthouse in downtown Seattle has reached a crisis point. The court is asking that measures be taken to make the environment safer for jurors and other courthouse visitors.

Nami Quenby / flkr/Creative Commons

Sheryl Hill is Founder of Depart Smart, a Minnesota-based non-profit  focused on safety and travel. Her personal passion is making study abroad programs more accountable. Her son, Tyler, died while on a study program in Japan. But she says she wants to make travel safer for everyone. Here are five of her safe travel tips that you may not have thought of.

Sign Up With The State Department

Wikimedia Commons

Washington CoastSavers is coordinating its annual post Independence Day beach clean up. In past years, the group reports tens of tons of fireworks debris has been collected from Washington's south coast beaches following Fourth of July celebrations. 

Here's where to go if you want to help on the morning of July 5th:

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

This story was originally published July 4, 2013.

It seems as much a part of a trip to the ballpark as eating hotdogs.

But, when you hear the announcer say, "Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and remove your caps for the singing of the national anthem," do you ever wonder why you're standing?

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Most U.S. Army Corps projects don't include the kind of horticultural splendors seen at the Carl S. English Botanical Garden at the Ballard Locks.

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle residents and family members of Charleena Lyles demanded change from Seattle city officials during a public hearing about her fatal shooting by police earlier this month.

The full Seattle City Council attended the hearing Tuesday evening at the University of Washington, which the Seattle King County NAACP called for last week.

Neil Conway / Flickr

It’s estimated that up to 75 percent of people in jail in Washington haven’t been convicted of a crime. They’re waiting for trial and can’t afford the bail set by the judge. There’s a national movement to change the system. Now judges in Washington state are joining efforts to look at the problem.

Washington Department of Agriculture

You may have noticed a small green triangular box with an orange label hanging from a tree in your neighborhood. It’s a trap for gypsy moths. As happens every year of late, trappers with the Washington Department of Agriculture are fanning out to place the traps in trees. What they find will determine if the state has to spray for gypsy moths in 2018. Based on what was found in the traps in 2016, no spraying was scheduled for this summer.

Josh Estey/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / HIV in Indonesia by DFAT IS LICENSED BY CC BY-NC 2.0

The most difficult part of recovery from addiction can be taking the first step to get help. For hundreds of heroin and prescription pain medication addicts, that first step is a walk through the door of a methadone clinic in the South Sound called Tacoma Treatment Solutions. Every day people arrive at the clinic as early as 5 a.m. to get their daily dose of methadone. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The shooting death of Charleena Lyles by Seattle police has once again brought the use of deadly force into the spotlight. Friends and family of Lyles have asked why other less-lethal force wasn’t used when two officers responded to an attempted burglary report at Lyles’ apartment Sunday morning.

John Duricka / AP Photo

The president and his staff are mired in scandal. Congressional committees and a special prosecutor are investigating. This was in 1973 during the Watergate scandal when Richard Nixon was president. But, William Ruckelshaus, who served several positions in President Richard Nixon's administration, says it felt a lot like today, when investigations into possible collusion between President Donald Trump's election campaign and Russia are making headlines.

Paula Wissel / knkx

In many ways, the region’s homeless crisis is very visible, from tents on sidewalks to panhandlers in the street. But, artist Xavier Lopez remembers feeling invisible when, as a 10 year old,  his family was homeless. His exhibit, "Hope/Home" runs through June 16 in Seattle's Municipal Tower in downtown Seattle.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

One result of the opioid epidemic is that cases of hepatitis C are way up. The highest rate of new infections is among 20-somethings. In the past, it was primarily baby boomers who were being treated for the blood-borne disease.

A Seattle-based immigrant rights group has scored a major victory against the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. A federal judge has granted the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project request for a nationwide temporary restraining order  that will allow the immigrant rights group to resume its legal work on behalf of immigrants.

Paula Wissel / knkx

In this social media age, sharing your innermost feelings online is expected.  But, Seattle artist Xavier Lopez decided to encourage something different for his exhibit "Message in a Bottle." He asked people to write their thoughts down on paper and tuck them into a bottle.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

As the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments for and against President Donald Trump’s travel ban, the subject of an executive order issued by President Franklin Roosevelt more than 70 years ago came up.  The court is considering whether to uphold an injunction on the ban issued by a federal judge in Hawaii.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says he is dropping his re-election bid following allegations by four men that he sexually abused them when they were teenagers decades ago.

Murray vehemently denied the claims and has said they are politically motivated by an anti-gay conspiracy.

He made his announcement Tuesday after insisting for weeks he would not drop out.

Wing Luke Museum collection

On May 6, 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act.  The 1882 law barred all skilled and unskilled Chinese laborers from entering the country.

The law followed years of anti-Chinese activity in the U.S., with newspapers and magazines routinely depicting the Chinese as a "yellow peril" threatening to take over the country.

The Chinese had initially been welcomed in the U.S. to help build the railroads and do other hard labor. On the eve of the 135th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act, 88.5's Paula Wissel sat down for an interview with Cassie Chinn, deputy executive director of the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle.

Seattle Aquarium Photo

Voters in King County will get to decide if they want to raise the sales tax to fund arts and cultural programs. The Metropolitan King County Council voted 7-2 to put the measure on the August 1 primary ballot.

"Field Mouse (peromyscus maniculatus)" by Dawn Beattie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Are there rodents under your hood? King County Public Health officials say if you have mice nesting in your car, you could be at risk of contracting the deadly hantavirus. The airborne virus is spread when deer mice droppings are disturbed.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Local officials are praising a federal judge’s decision to temporarily block President Donald Trump’s order to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities.” The temporary restraining order was issued in San Francisco, but applies nationwide.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A Russian hacker will be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Friday. Roman Seleznev, whose father is a prominent member of the Russian Parliament, was convicted last August for his part in a multi-million dollar credit card fraud scheme.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Next November’s race for mayor of Seattle could end up being a rematch. Former Mayor Mike McGinn, who was defeated in 2013 by current Mayor Ed Murray, is running to get his old job back. 

Paula Wissel / knkx

Tennis is not an easy sport to just pick up. Players on high school tennis teams have usually spent years honing their skills. But at lower income schools that isn’t the case. There's an effort in South Seattle to help level the playing court.

A transgender woman has settled a federal lawsuit against a blood plasma bank in Kent. She sued after being told she would not be allowed to donate plasma because of her sexual identity.

Paula Wissel / knkx

Just off busy Aurora Avenue in Seattle, there’s a new cluster of tiny houses. The first residents began moving into the non-profit run Licton Springs Tiny Houses Village on Wednesday.

Paula Wissel / knkx

For the past five years, Seattle police have operated under a federal consent decree that requires steps to be taken to reduce biased policing.  United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to review Obama-era consent decrees to see if they should remain in place. But the review is unlikely to change the one in Seattle.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

How difficult is it to remove a politician from office outside of an election? Only two United States presidents have ever been impeached and even they kept their jobs. In Washington state, while there are mechanisms for both impeachment and recall of elected officials, they are rarely used and almost never successful.


Despite the often heard phrase “see you in court,” more and more conflicts are actually being resolved through mediation, without going to trial. 

At the University of Washington School of Law, the 23rd annual Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference begins Thursday featuring more than 40 national experts in the field of dispute resolution.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle says it has a plan to reduce pedestrian traffic fatalities by half. It involves a minor tweak to the traffic lights

When you’re on foot in Seattle, it can be a little nerve wracking crossing the street at a traffic signal. Just as the walk sign comes on, the green light for cars goes on as well. If a car is turning, you just hope it sees you.

But Scott Kubly, Seattle Department of Transportation director, says, as part of the city’s pedestrian master plan, those walk lights are going to be reprogrammed so that the walk sign comes on first.