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

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An initiative backed by families of people who’ve been shot by police may not appear on Washington’s November ballot after all. That’s because sponsors of Initiative 940 and police groups have agreed on a new good faith standard for the use of deadly force.

As the Washington Legislature enters its final week, a deal may be coming together to change the state’s law regarding police use of deadly force. Back-to-back public hearings on a new bill have been hastily scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in the House and Senate.

A new Washington state law designed to crack down on felons, domestic abusers and others who lie and try to buy a gun is already resulting in prosecutions.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

More than 18,000 foreign workers, most of them from Mexico, traveled legally to Washington last year to labor on the state's farms, largely in the apple, pear, and cherry industries.

Recent high-profile lawsuits have thrust the state into a debate about the benefits and shortcomings of the H-2A visa program, which allows farmers to import temporary workers from other countries to make up for labor shortages at home.

Updated at 5:27 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that immigrants, even those with permanent legal status and asylum seekers, do not have the right to periodic bond hearings.

Updated at 5:11 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday about whether emails stored overseas are subject to a U.S. warrant. It all revolved around a 1986 law, five years before the "World Wide Web" even existed.

It was the cloud and robots meet Marty McFly.

And the justices didn't seem to be buying arguments from Microsoft, an American tech company headquartered in Redmond, Wash., which is trying to protect the data.

"OUTSIDE NWDC" BY SEATTLE GLOBALIST IS LICENSED UNDER CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/2EN7Dav

A guard punched a detainee at a Tacoma detention center for immigrants facing deportation in retaliation for a hunger strike, a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington claims.

Anytime someone is booked into a county jail for a crime in the U.S., his or her fingerprints are automatically sent to federal authorities. If the suspect happens to be an undocumented immigrant, what happens next could depend on where the jail is located.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement often asks jails to hold undocumented people, so federal agents can pick them up and put them into deportation proceedings.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

SEATTLE (AP) — Sixteen years after federal prosecutor Thomas Wales was shot to death in his Seattle home, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Wednesday the unsolved case remains a top priority of the Justice Department.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

 

Dozens gathered in Olympia Tuesday night for a joint Senate Law and Justice Committee and House Public Safety Committee hearing on Initiative 940, known as “De-escalate Washington.” The initiative would make it easier to prosecute police for misuse of deadly force and require more training for officers.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

A man who worked as an educational aide in nine Seattle public schools has pleaded not guilty to child rape and molestation charges.

Albert Virachismith was employed at John Muir Elementary School in the Mount Baker neighborhood in the 2016-17 school year. That’s where he’s alleged to have sexually assaulted a student in the bathroom multiple times.

Last month, a Washington state resident was fined more than $8,000 for poaching three wolves in 2016. DNA evidence linked him to three separate kills, but other poaching cases remain unsolved. 

British Columbia is taking the next step in a decade-long battle over native tribal rights. The province has filed paperwork to appeal a decision that granted Washington state tribal members rights to their ancestral lands in Canada.

Driving with a suspended license is a gross misdemeanor in Washington state and can lead to hefty fines and even jail time. But some say those fines are a burden that low-income drivers can’t bear.

Now, lawmakers are considering lowering the penalties.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

(This story clarified at 12:54 pm, January 29, 2017, to reflect what less-lethal training King County Sheriff deputies have received and remarks made by the Director of Law Enforcement Oversight, Deborah Jacobs, regarding implicit-bias training.)

Soon, all King County patrol deputies will have gone through violence de-escalation training. The King County Sheriff’s Office says non-patrol officers will also be trained. It’s part of a broader initiative to promote anti-biased policing in the department.

Momentum may be building to repeal the death penalty in Washington state. The Senate Law & Justice Committee is expected to pass a repeal measure—something that hasn’t happened in modern times. That follows an impassioned public hearing Monday.

The prosecutor of Washington’s most populous county is calling for the repeal of the death penalty. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg plans to testify Monday in favor of a proposal to replace capital punishment with life without the possibility of parole. 


A coalition of news outlets have won a partial victory in a public records lawsuit against the Washington Legislature. In a ruling Friday morning, a judge in Thurston County said lawmakers are subject to the state’s public disclosure law.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

We aren’t aware of our subconscious prejudices and how they affect our actions. Researchers say this implicit bias plays a role in policing, helping to explain why people of color often receive harsher treatment from police than whites. Some police departments are trying to address the problem through training courses.

Paula Wissel / knkx

A federal lawsuit has been filed over the shooting of 20-year-old Tommy Le last June by King County Sheriff's Deputy Cesar Molina in Burien.  

Elaine Thompson / AP File Photo

Port of Seattle officials say they’re taking greater steps to address human trafficking. That includes a public awareness campaign at Sea-Tac Airport.

Losing a child is a devastating loss. But imagine if that death is followed by a legal battle. That’s what happened after a Mukilteo teenage died in 2016.

Now her mom is trying to change state law.

Will James / KNKX

King County is unique in the state because it requires an inquest to be held whenever there is a fatal shooting by police. But the process can be confusing and controversial, with some critics arguing that it's biased toward law enforcement.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scrapping Obama-era guidelines that essentially removed marijuana from the list of federal drug enforcement priorities as more states legalized it.

In guidance issued Thursday, Sessions rescinded those policies and instead will permit individual U.S. attorneys to decide how aggressively to go after marijuana in their jurisdictions.

Sessions, a former Alabama senator, has long viewed pot as a public menace and a source of street crime.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has upheld the claims of a Native American man from Washington state that he has the right to hunt in the province.

The long-running case concerned Rick Desautel, a member of the Colville Tribes and a descendant of the Sinixt, an indigenous group which once roamed the Northwest.

Christal Fields lost her childcare license after the Department of Early Learning found out she had a criminal record. Now she's suing in the Washington state Supreme Court to appeal the decision.
Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

Scammers have found a way to use fake caller ID information to pose as the Washington State Supreme Court Clerk and call people up to threaten arrest and demand money.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals say they'll rule "as soon as practical" on the state of Hawaii's legal challenge to President Donald Trump's latest travel restrictions.

A Colorado case before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday could have major implications for a similar case in Washington state. That case involves a Richland florist who’s been waging a multi-year legal battle.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The City of Tacoma's legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation is struggling to attract donors. 

Just under $2,000 has flowed in from 21 donors since the fund's creation in late October.

Updated 12/2, 11:47 a.m. ET

President Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition, and he is cooperating with the special counsel's investigation into Moscow's interference in last year's election.

Flynn told investigators that he was instructed to engage with the Russians by senior members of the Trump transition team.

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