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

Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp says we often talk about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a sole figure, without looking at the people and events he was influenced by. One of those key influences, says Beauchamp, was the death of Emmett Till on August 28, 1955.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The father of the Marysville school shooter has been sentenced to two years in federal prison. But, a defense attorney for Raymond Fryberg plans to appeal the sentence for illegal possession of guns. Fryberg’s son, Jaylen, killed four students and himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High in 2014. One student survived the shooting.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Following on the heels of President Obama’s gun initiative, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced his own executive action to curb firearm violence. Calling his executive order a “measured, modest approach” to preventing gun deaths,  Governor Inslee is directing state and local health care and law enforcement agencies to do a better job of both collecting and sharing data.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

U.S. Representative Jim McDermott, a Seattle liberal Democrat who is retiring from public office, leaves a legacy both understated and high-profile, according to columnist Joel Connelly. On Monday, McDermott announced he will not seek a 15th term in office.

Peregrine Church

When it’s pouring down rain, a certain kind of art suddenly becomes visible on some sidewalks in Seattle. The stenciled images of things like giant rain drops can only be seen when the surface is wet.  A twenty-two-year-old Seattle man, Peregrine Church, created what he calls rainworks. Now, he’s taking his idea to the world beyond the Pacific Northwest.

Paula Wissel

Have you ever had a job that was so repetitive you did little things to try and spice it up?  Apparently, that’s true even when you’re a professional musician playing in the orchestra for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s "The Nutcracker."

That's what KPLU's Paula Wissel found out when she went to a matinee performance on Tuesday and got a behind-the-scenes tour.

Paula Wissel

When does a posting on a social media site go beyond free speech to become a hate crime? That’s one of the questions that comes up when you talk about Washington’s hate crime statute.  Earlier this month, suspended Western Washington University, Tysen Campbell, was charged with felony malicious harassment, Washington's hate crime law. Two high school students in Edmonds, Washington were recently arrested for allegedly violating the same law. In both of these cases, the perpetrators allegedly posted racist threats online.

Paula Wissel

Consumers in Washington are losing $33 million each year to tech support scams, according to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is suing iYogi, one of the world’s biggest independent providers of tech support.

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

Ride the Ducks vehicles could be back on the road and in the water in Seattle as early as next month. This despite state investigators finding hundreds of safety violations by the tourist company, including many for bad record keeping.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

A suspended Western Washington University student has pleaded not guilty to hate crime charges.

19-year-old Tysen Campbell appeared in Whatcom County Superior Court Friday after being charged with malicious harassment, under Washington's hate crime law, for allegedly writing "let's lynch her" on a social media post concerning a student leader at Western Washington University.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Washington  Supreme Court says its opinion that SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage law ordinance applies to airport workers stands. That was in response to Alaska Airlines and other businesses asking the court to reconsider its August ruling. The "order denying motion for reconsideration" was issued by the court on Monday, November 30.

Paula Wissel

Police reform in Seattle isn’t happening quickly enough for some community groups in the city. The police department has been under a federal court order to overcome racially biased policing.

Paula Wissel

This time of year, it’s worth a reminder that some children’s gifts can be hazardous. The annual “dangerous toys” list is out from the Washington Public Interest Research Group. For its “Trouble in Toyland” report, the group scoured store shelves for toys that pose choking hazards, or have magnets so powerful they can cause serious internal injuries if swallowed, or are so loud they can hurt kid's hearing.

Anthony Bopp

A transgender Seattle man has won his battle against an insurance company over his medical treatment. Anthony Bopp, who works in the produce section at a local QFC grocery store, has health coverage through Sound Health and Wellness Trust, but the insurer has been refusing to pay for routine treatment Bopp needs.

Paula Wissel

In Seattle’s City Council races, incumbents are all leading, including the city’s first socialist council member Kshama Sawant. Council President Tim Burgess, as well as council members Sally Bagshaw, Bruce Harrell and Mike OBrien, appear to be winning handily. Sawant’s race for Seattle City Council District 3 is closer.

Nicholas K. Geranios / AP

More than 20 years ago, a drive-by shooting outside Ballard High School in Seattle left 16-year-old Melissa Fernandes dead. The perpetrator, Brian Ronquillo, also a teenager, was sent to prison for more than 50 years.

Now, the state Court of Appeals says the killer’s age should have been considered. It is another sign that courts are giving more weight to teenage brain development.

Photo by David Ellifrit/ / Center for Whale Research

Keep your eyes peeled for killer whales. The orca pods that spend the summer in the San Juan Islands are expected to show up in Puget Sound any moment now. That’s according to the Orca Network, which tracks the killer whales via a network of volunteer spotters.

Paula Wissel

It is hard to miss the gentrification taking place in Seattle’s Central District. Walk around the neighborhood and you see modest houses being torn down to make way for pricey condos and upscale businesses going in.

Jasperdo / Flkr Creative Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union says an eastern Washington county is operating a modern day debtors’ prison in violation of both the United States and Washington State Constitutions.  The ACLU of Washington and the law firm of Terrell Marshall Law Group filed a class-action lawsuit against Benton County, which includes the towns of Richland and Kennewick.

Paula WIssel

Sex trafficking of minors and others coerced into prostitution is only possible when there is a market. According to the advocacy group Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking, one way to stem that demand is to get workplaces involved.

photograph provided by Washington's Office of the Secretary of State

Most people do not spend a lot of time thinking about our state constitution.  But, perhaps they should. Recent Washington Supreme Court decisions, including one about charter schools, show how this 126-year-old document still affects our lives.

KPLU Law and Justice Reporter Paula Wissel talks with with University of Washington law professor Hugh Spitzer. He co-wrote what many consider the definitive book on the state constitution.

Paula Wissel

Hundreds of supporters waved as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in downtown Seattle today. As the motorcade zipped by on the way to the Westin Hotel, Tony Zhao held up a giant red flag with five yellow stars on it.

He was not the only one waving a Chinese flag. Some well-wishers held the red flag in one hand and the American flag in the other.

Paula Wissel

Replacing aging bridges and re-paving major arterials are two things a Seattle levy on this year’s ballot promises to do.  Seattle Proposition 1 would put $930 million into transportation projects over the next 9 years.  It's a replacement, of sorts, for Seattle's Bridging the Gap levy, which is expiring. However, the new property tax measure will cost homeowners more than the old one did.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a lawsuit Wednesday against the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractors over worker safety at Hanford. We bring you this Q&A from our Tri-Cities correspondent Anna King.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

More information has been made public about the mindset of the killer in the days leading up to last year’s deadly shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

Five people died, including the shooter, on October 24, 2014. One student was seriously wounded.  All were friends of the killer, Jaylen Fryberg.

In response to public records requests, investigators have released  1400 pages of the police investigation, conducted by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team. The documents detail the chilling messages Jaylen Fryberg sent to his family and friends shortly before pulling out a gun in the school cafeteria.

Paula Wissel

Could Marysville-Pilchuck High School have done more to prevent the deadly shooting there last year? The attorney representing the victim's families says it's possible. 

Brian Cox / City of Tacoma

The City of Tacoma has launched a program to improve the relationship between police and the community. Project Peace will involve a series of meetings to be held over the next several months. The plan is that, with the help of facilitators, people will sit down with police and brainstorm how best to improve trust.

Seth Perlman / AP Photo

Gun rights organizations, including the National Rifle Association, are suing the city of Seattle over its new tax on guns and ammo. The tax amounts to $25 for each firearm sold in the city, plus 5 cents for every round of ammunition. The groups say the tax violates Washington state law.

Bellevue, Washington-based Second Amendment foundation is one of the groups suing. Spokesman Dave Workman says the problem with Seattle’s tax on ammunition and guns is it violates Washington’s preemption law.

Paula Wissel

Some of those giant ads on buildings in downtown Seattle may be coming down. The city sued outdoor advertising company, Total Outdoor,  charging it with violating the city’s sign ordinance.

Now, a settlement has been reached.

Seattle’s sign ordinance is a decade old and is meant to help beautify the city by limiting billboards. The city contended Total Outdoor defied the law by marketing space on the sides of buildings to corporate clients, such as Apple and T-Mobile.

Her husband was murdered. Now, in a stranger-than-fiction twist, the killer is suing her from prison for causing him emotional distress. The lawsuit of Washington Department of Corrections inmate Larry Shandola against Paula Henry goes to court in Tacoma on Friday.