Tuesday morning's headlines

Jun 21, 2011

Time for some fun in the sun: Mostly sunny, with a high near 71. Forecast here.

Making headlines around the Northwest:

Class-action suit claims public defenders swamped

With city budgets in Washington taking one hit after another, a class-action lawsuit filed last week in Skagit County could force cities to boost public-defense spending.

The Seattle Times reports that the lawsuit accuses Mount Vernon and Burlington of violating defendants' constitutionally protected right to counsel because public defenders there are overworked.

Toby Marshall, a Seattle lawyer whose firm filed the lawsuit, told The Times that based on the volume of criminal cases, Mount Vernon and Burlington need five attorneys, not two, and need to spend about $300,000, not the current $180,000.

"The Constitution does not say you get an attorney if the city can afford it. The Constitution says you have a right to counsel, period," he said.

Nearly 300,000 misdemeanor cases were filed statewide in 2010, from drunken-driving and domestic-violence complaints to the simple driving-with-license-suspended citations that constitute about one-third of the total caseload.


Off the AP wire: Train derailment; women attacked

  • The Coast Guard says a train derailment in a Seattle industrial area has spilled 600 gallons of diesel fuel on the ground near the West Seattle Bridge. There are no reports of diesel from last night's spill actually entering the water.
  • Port Angeles police say a man called 911 yesterday to say he'd just shot his neighbor, and officers arrived at a home to find a 63-year-old man dead. Detectives say the 911 caller said his neighbor was visiting when they got into an argument. The man says he fired in self-defense.
  • Police are looking for two men who attacked two women early today as they were walking in north Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood and started dragging them away. Police say a 19-year-old woman broke loose but the men drove off with a 20-year-old victim. Police say she was found safe a short time later and taken to a hospital as a precaution.
  • A divided King County Council has passed a measure to require all swimmers, floaters and boaters on the county's rivers to wear life vests. Council opponents called it an intrusive move by "big government." First-time offenders will get a warning; a second violation will mean an $86 fine.

Unusual dolphin sighting in south Puget Sound

One or two dolphins common to the waters of Southern California have been spotted in Puget Sound since early June near Olympia.

A biologist with the Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, Annie Douglas, said it's very unusual. She added the chance of survival for the subtropical marine mammals in the south Sound is not good.

The Tacoma News Tribune reports that waterfront residents, beachgoers and boaters have reported one or two dolphins swimming, feeding and approaching boats along a stretch of shoreline from Boston Harbor to Thurston County’s Burfoot Park for the past three weeks, she said.

Photographs show one of the dolphins with minor skin sloughing and algae growth, which is a sign of lower water salinity than the dolphins are accustomed to, Douglas said. The skin irritations could lead to more skin infections, she told the Tribune

Olympic National Park rangers kill aggressive elk

Olympic National Park rangers killed an elk that had charged three vehicles and damaged a tent at the Hoh Rain Forest campground.

The Peninsula Daily News reports rangers started monitoring the female Roosevelt elk on Friday after it damaged a tent and charged a park vehicle. They used loud noises to scare off the elk over the weekend when it approached campers or hikers.

After it charged two more vehicles on Monday, rangers decided to kill it. A section of its brain was taken for lab tests for a possible explanation of its behavior.

- The Associated Press