Law

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

Three Seattle men face charges in federal court that they hacked into the computer systems of dozens of Washington businesses — sometimes choosing their victims simply by driving around and picking up their wireless Internet signals.

The Marion County judge who'll decide if Gary Haugen is mentally competent to be executed, is keeping the inmate's psychological evaluation confidential.

Two-time convicted killer, Gary Haugen, wants to drop all appeals of his death penalty.

He fired his lawyers after they they had him undergo a psychological evaluation, then argued he was not competent to be put to death.

Judge Joseph Guimond had set an August date for Haugen’s execution.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

If you’ve ever used a cash machine, here’s something you should be aware of. The Justice Department has disrupted one of the largest debit and credit card skimming rings on the West Coast.

Alan Cleaver / Flickr

The FBI says violent crime dropped 6 percent nationwide in 2010. Northwest states are following that same trend, but see less improvement when it comes to property crime rates.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

VANCOUVER, Wash. — It can be hard to find a job these days – especially with a felony conviction on your record.

That's the position offenders in the Clark County work release program have found themselves in. The inmates, who are serving the last few months of their sentence, are tasked with finding work to help them build up savings and gain work experience to help them reenter society.

Associated Press

LONGVIEW, Wash. — A federal judge is ordering union protesters to halt illegal activity as they battle for the right to work at a new grain terminal in Washington state. The judge issued a preliminary injunction to restrict union activity, saying today there is no defense for recent aggressive tactics.

Susan Walsh / Associated Press

U.S. Senator Patty Murray has debuted in her newest high profile role. The Washington Democrat co-chairs the so-called supercommittee on federal debt reduction. It held its first meeting today in Washington, DC., and Murray provided opening remarks.

This fall, the deficit cutting committee will recommend $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years.

Keith Seinfeld / KPLU

“Right after nine-eleven there was a peak of hostility toward Muslims. It kind of went down a bit, but over the years it’s gone up again.”

That’s how local Muslim-American Jeff (Jaffar) Siddiqui summarizes the decade since the Sept. 11th attacks.

Associated Press

LONGVIEW, Wash. — Hundreds of union protesters blocking a grain shipment in southwest Washington state rushed police officers who tried to make arrests and forced them to retreat.

SPOKANE, Wash. - The man accused of attempting to bomb the Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane admits that he constructed and planted the explosive with the intent to hurt parade participants. That admission came with the guilty plea entered Wednesday by 37-year-old Kevin Harpham.

Courtesy of Cowlitz County Humane Society

LONGVIEW, Wash. — The Cowlitz County Humane Society seized two big boa constrictors on Monday and seven more large boas and pythons on Tuesday from homes in Longview.

The man accused of planting a backpack bomb along the Martin Luther King Day parade route in Spokane is set to change his plea today. Kevin Harpham originally entered a plea of not guilty in what the FBI has deemed a case of domestic terrorism.

Thirty-seven-year-old Kevin Harpham was arrested in March. He faces charges related to a pipe bomb that Spokane city workers found on a downtown bench the morning of Jan. 17. Prosecutors later added federal hate crime charges. Together, the allegations carry a sentence of up to life in prison.

Paula Wissel/KPLU

If you have feral cats in your neighborhood, you know they can be a major headache, what with the loud cat fighting and territorial spraying. 

In Grays Harbor County, two women have taken it upon themselves to fix the problem, literally. They trap cats in order to get them spayed or neutered. They then release them back where they came from.

BREMERTON, Wash. — A Central Kitsap School District teacher has been charged with voyeurism following an investigation that began when he was caught taking suspicious photos of women and girls last month at the Kitsap County Fair.

Blame massive crowding, alcohol and inadequate police response as the main causes of the recent Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, B.C.

An exhaustive review of the riot sponsored by the Province of British Columbia, City of Vancouver and Vancouver Police Board was made public yesterday. 

In a unanimous ruling, the Washington State Supreme court says Attorney General Rob McKenna has the authority to challenge the new federal health care law. The high court denied the City of Seattle’s request to remove Washington from the multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.

TACOMA, Wash. — A trucker was changing a flat tire Thursday morning on Interstate 5 south of Tacoma when he saw a woman in her underwear crawl over the guardrail from a swamp near the Nisqually River.

Salem, OREGON – The Oregon Supreme Court has sided with five juvenile killers who’ve long maintained the state treats them more harshly than adult murderers. The high court Thursday called on the Oregon Board of Parole to schedule hearings and even decide on release dates for two of the five.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court is requiring Attorney General Rob McKenna to represent the state's public lands commissioner in a legal appeal.

An Idaho woman who was prosecuted on felony charges for ending a pregnancy is now challenging state anti-abortion laws in federal court. It's the first constitutional challenge to a so-called "fetal pain" law that several states passed recently.

Police in Pocatello, Idaho, said Jennie McCormack ordered medication online to terminate her pregnancy at around 20 weeks. Under a 1972 state law, however, it's illegal to have an abortion unless it's performed by a doctor.

The Washington State Attorney General wants a top provider of online adult sex ads to prove it’s operating legally, calls Backpage.com a hub for human trafficking.

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna and 45 other attorneys general today called for information about how Backpage.com presumably attempts to remove advertising for sex trafficking, especially ads that could involve minors.

Meanwhile, Snohomish County has received a $450,000 federal grant to combat child sex trafficking.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Police in Vancouver, British Columbia, say a human foot inside a running shoe has washed ashore, the latest in roughly a dozen such cases since 2007.

On the day she was killed, University of Idaho graduate student Katy Benoit met with university officials about the complaint she had filed against former assistant professor Ernesto Bustamante, and university officials cautioned her to remain vigilant and seek out help if she had any safety concerns.

Prosecutors in a federal hate crime case in Spokane are asking prospective jurors if they have ties to racist and militia groups. The man accused of planting a backpack bomb along Spokane's Martin Luther King Day parade route in January has been linked to white supremacists.

Kevin Harpham's name shows up in connection with more than 1,000 posts made to a Neo-Nazi web forum. And the Southern Poverty Law Center says he was once a member of the racist group, the National Alliance.

BOISE – Idaho prison officials dismantled a sweat lodge Wednesday. it was used mainly by Native Americans to worship.

Prisoners have used the sweat lodge at the South Idaho Correctional Institution in Kuna for decades. Deputy Chief of Prisons Jeff Zmuda says they are remodeling the outdoor area and removed the lodge for safety and security reasons.

Friends and family of University of Idaho graduate student Kathryn Benoit, who was killed Monday night in Moscow, are planning memorial observances, as the investigation into her death continues.

When the 22 year old Benoit was killed by multiple gunshots outside her residence in Moscow Monday night, her roommates called 911:

911 AUDIO: “Can you tell me exactly what happened?” “I don’t know. We were in the house cooking and we heard shots.”

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has not given up on the idea of a mileage tax paid by electric vehicle owners. The tax is meant to offset the lack of gas taxes paid by people who drive electric cars.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

SHELTON, Wash. – The recent murder trial in Seattle of Isaiah Kalebu made headlines for the brutality of his crime – the rape and butcher knife attack of two women in their home that left one of them dead.

But the trial also attracted attention because of Kalebu’s volatile outbursts in court and suicide attempts. Now he’s headed to prison – for life.

RICHLAND, Wash. — Six workers at a Hanford radioactive waste disposal site decided to quit rather than submit to drug testing after a baggie of marijuana was found in building at the landfill called the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility.

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