Law

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

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A Washington state high school football coach took advantage of his position when he prayed on the field after games, and he's not entitled to immediately get his job back, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.

Seth Perlman / AP Photo

Washington law prevents domestic violence abusers from possessing guns. But advocates for victims say the courts aren’t doing enough to enforce the law.

Passed by the Washington state legislature in 2014, the law requires people with protection orders against them because of domestic abuse to temporarily surrender their firearms to law enforcement. 

Los Angeles sued the Justice Department on Tuesday over the Trump administration's threat to cut millions in federal funding for so-called sanctuary cities, which limit their cooperation with federal authorities on immigration enforcement.

Simone Alicea / KNKX

Tensions over high-profile police shooting deaths have led to ongoing conversations about bias, police culture and use of force.

Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing back against the federal government.

On Monday, the city is filing suit against the Department of Justice, which announced it would withhold millions of dollars in police grant money from so-called sanctuary cities.

Emanuel is suing because he says new rules for a federal crime-fighting grant go against the Constitution and the city's values.

"Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate," Emanuel said.

Courtesy of King County

Updated at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1. Original story follows update.

The Burien City Council ended a meeting Monday night without taking a critical vote on the future of a local law aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants.

By failing to vote, City Council members missed an Aug. 1 deadline to put a repeal of the immigration law on the November ballot.

Kyle Fox / KNKX

Seattle area residents and family members of Tommy Le demanded answers from King County officials during a public forum about his fatal shooting by a deputy in June.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart, County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight Director Deborah Jacobs were among those who attended the forum Wednesday evening at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service in Seattle.

A Richland, Washington, flower shop owner who was on the losing end of a same-sex wedding discrimination case now wants to piggyback on an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court argument.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has filed a motion with the Supreme Court, asking for clarification of the justices' order upholding a version of the travel ban. The justices' order allowed the administration to restrict entry by people from six mostly Muslim countries, except for those who have what's judged to be a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States, including close family members.

Oregon lawmakers are advancing a measure that would make it a crime to attach a tracking device to another person's vehicle without their permission.

TUMWATER, Wash. (AP) — A Washington man who was sentenced to 76 years in prison after being convicted of 137 charges will be getting a new trial.

The Olympian reports reports 38-year-old Kenneth A. Linville Jr. was convicted in 2015 on several crimes, including leading organized crime, residential burglary, theft and trafficking stolen property, but an appeals court overturned all convictions.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that taxpayer-funded grants for playgrounds available to nonprofits under a state program could not be denied to a school run by a church.

"The consequence is, in all likelihood, a few extra scraped knees. But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

The Supreme Court says it will decide the fate of President Trump's revised travel ban, agreeing to hear arguments over immigration cases that were filed in federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland and allowing parts of the ban that has been on hold since March to take effect.

The justices removed the two lower courts' injunctions against the ban "with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States," narrowing the scope of those injunctions that had put the ban in limbo.

Courtesy Columbia Legal Services

Getting out of prison or jail might sound like an event to celebrate.

But it can actually be one of the most challenging times for people attempting to re-enter normal life. That’s why a local non-profit invited members of the public to an event this week at the Seattle Public Library, for what they call a “re-entry simulation.”

Members of the Asian-American rock band The Slants have the right to call themselves by a disparaging name, the Supreme Court says, in a ruling that could have broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases.

The Slants' frontman, Simon Tam, filed a lawsuit after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office kept the band from registering its name and rejected its appeal, citing the Lanham Act, which prohibits any trademark that could "disparage ... or bring ... into contemp[t] or disrepute" any "persons, living or dead," as the court states.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

President Trump's administration filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday night seeking to reverse rulings by lower courts in Hawaii and Maryland that blocked a temporary ban on travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim countries.

The Trump administration says the Constitution gives the president "broad authority to prevent aliens abroad from entering this country when he deems it in the nation's interest."

Civil rights advocates and Democrats are celebrating after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Republican-controlled North Carolina Legislature had drawn two congressional districts that amount to unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. Election experts say the decision is likely to boost the prospects for success in similar challenges across the South.

Updated at 3:25 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that struck down two North Carolina congressional districts, saying the state relied too heavily on race in drawing them.

A new federal lawsuit against Baylor University accuses football players of drugging and gang-raping young women as part of a hazing or bonding ritual — and the university of failing to investigate the pervasive sexual assault.

The players often took photographs and videos as they carried out the gang rapes, the suit alleges. It was filed by "Jane Doe," who says she was raped by four to eight Baylor players in February 2012. Her Title IX suit says the school's "deliberately indifferent response" effectively denied her educational opportunities.

Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Tacoma’s City Attorney’s Office is exploring ways to hold the makers of opioid painkillers accountable for the city’s growing homelessness crisis.

The city is gathering information from law enforcement and other city officials to determine whether to move forward with a lawsuit against drug manufacturers.

Last January, the city of Everett filed a lawsuit against Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, alleging the company knowingly allowed pills to be funneled to the black market.

When State Attorney Aramis Ayala, a Democrat, announced in March that she would no longer seek the death penalty in capital cases, Republican Gov. Scott took away more than 20 murder cases in her jurisdiction. Now, Ayala is suing Scott to get them back.

At issue is whether Gov. Rick Scott has the authority to remove cases from a state attorney who refuses to seek capital punishment.

The state Supreme Court is considering where the power resides.

Standing at the kitchen counter in his spotless town house near the Baltimore airport, Reddy Annappareddy heated up some water to make his lawyer a coffee and contemplated his hard fall from grace.

Twenty-five years ago, the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified — nearly two centuries after it was written. The improbable story of how that happened starts with the Founding Fathers themselves and winds up at the University of Texas. And it's a heartening reminder of the power of individuals to make real change.

The city of Miami can sue Wells Fargo and Bank of America for damages under the Fair Housing Act, the Supreme Court says, allowing a lawsuit to continue that accuses the big banks of causing economic harm with discriminatory and predatory lending practices.

The 5-3 vote saw Chief Justice John Roberts form a majority with the court's more liberal justices. Justice Anthony Kennedy, widely seen as the court's "swing" justice, sided with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The court's newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, wasn't involved in the case.

Arkansas, which has been in a race to execute death-row inmates before a key lethal drug expires, plans to hold its final execution in the series Thursday night.

Attorneys for the condemned men have put forth arguments about their innocence, intellectual abilities, mental states and about the execution procedure.

But what happens to those debates after an execution?

Ledell Lee was the first inmate executed this month in Arkansas. There was scant physical evidence tying him to the murder he was convicted of, and he was never given a DNA test before his execution.

As a hurry-up execution schedule plays out in Arkansas this week, the U.S. Supreme Court and Arkansas Supreme Court have stepped in to block two of the eight executions initially scheduled for an 11-day period.

In a time of high drama over executions in Arkansas, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case that could determine the fate of two of the condemned men in the Razorback state, as well as others on death row elsewhere.

At issue is whether an indigent defendant whose sanity is a significant factor in his trial, is entitled to assistance from a mental health expert witness who is independent of the prosecutors.

Updated at 2 a.m. ET

Arkansas has carried out its first execution since 2005, just minutes before the expiration of the inmate's death warrant.

Ledell Lee was executed by lethal injection minutes before midnight Friday Central time in Grady, Ark. at the Cummins Unit facility, shortly before the warrant was set to expire.

Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Thursday, NPR member station KUAR Public Radio reports.

A clear majority of justices at the U.S. Supreme Court seemed troubled Wednesday by a Missouri grant program that bars state money from going to religious schools for playground improvement.

Thirty-nine states have state constitutional provisions that bar taxpayer funds from going to religious schools — provisions that have been a major obstacle for the school choice movement. The Missouri case is an attempt to lower that wall separating church and state.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in a Missouri case with the potential to open grant programs to parochial schools.

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