law and courts | KUOW News and Information

law and courts

Updated on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. ET

Keith Gaddie has "hung up his spurs."

The election expert from the University of Oklahoma no longer helps state legislatures draw new district lines to maximize their partisan advantage.

He was still wearing those spurs in 2011 when he provided data that helped Wisconsin Republicans enact a legislative redistricting plan aimed at maximizing their power for the foreseeable future.

But now he has reversed course and filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the practice is undemocratic.

The investigation into the Las Vegas shooting is still in the early stages, yet there already is a familiar debate about whether to call it an act of "domestic terrorism."

"It was an act of pure evil," President Trump said — but the president and law enforcement officials have refrained from calling it terrorism.

Several members of Congress, from both parties, did describe the attack as terrorism, including Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Tennessee.

Two key questions crop up every time this debate takes place.

First, what was the attacker's motive?

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a challenge Monday to Washington’s voter-approved background check law for person-to-person gun transfers.

Oxycodone pills.
Flickr Photo/Be.Futureproof (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/4xcHp9

Washington state’s attorney general and the attorney for the city of Seattle have filed separate lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.

Both the city and the state claim drug companies have contributed to the ongoing opioid and heroin epidemic.  

Oxycodone pills.
Flickr Photo/Be.Futureproof (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/4xcHp9

Bill Radke speaks with author and journalist Sam Quinones about why Washington state and the city of Seattle have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and other opioid producers. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he's suing because Purdue lead a deceptive marketing campaign to promote their drugs and mislead doctors on the risk of pain killers.

The City of Portland and Port of Portland can proceed with lawsuits against Monsanto, but a judge has dismissed several of the city’s claims over chemical contamination of the city’s waterways.

Portland is one of eight West Coast cities, including Seattle and Spokane, with pending lawsuits against the agrochemical corporation. The suits focus on lasting contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, a now-banned group of chemicals widely used decades ago, often as coolants or lubricants in electrical equipment.

Updated at 5:00 p.m. ET

President Trump and GOP congressional leaders have outlined their plan for the most sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code in more than three decades.

They're proposing deep cuts in both individual and corporate tax rates, saying that will help supercharge a slow-growing economy.

"We want tax reform that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-family, and yes, tax reform that is pro-American," Trump said Wednesday during a rally at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

King County's juvenile court and jail are located south of Capitol Hill.
Flickr Photo/jseattle

A Washington state appeals court ruled Tuesday that King County has been improperly calculating the property taxes it’s using to fund a new courthouse and youth detention center.

It’s the latest legal ruling in the contentious battle over replacing the facility. 

When Alexia Boggs was applying to law school, she initially considered all the big specialties, but none of them seemed quite right.

"I was looking for a field of law where none of my family could ever seek my help," she says, sarcastic but also not really joking.

For more than nine months, Twitter and Facebook have tried to dodge the intense public scrutiny involved with the investigation into Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

Now they're in the spotlight.

Congressional investigators are digging in on Russia's use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies to try to influence the 2016 campaign.

One of the halls at juvenile detention in Seattle. There are 212 beds but less than a quarter of those beds are used.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

The excavation work for King County’s new youth jail is done. But with the building’s foundation soon to be laid on East Alder Street, a new report calls into question how the design aligns with the county and city’s stated goals of not jailing young people at all.

King County's juvenile court and jail are located south of Capitol Hill.
Flickr Photo/jseattle

Construction has started at the new King County juvenile jail, but politicians and activists are still fighting about it.

Editor's note: Language featured in this piece may be considered offensive to some.

With the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, "Ferguson" became shorthand for racial strife and police shootings of unarmed black men.

But years before the protests and chants of "Hands up, don't shoot," there was something amiss in the Ferguson, Mo., police department.

Before Michael Brown, there was Fred Watson.

Teens who take an X-rated selfie and then text the image can be found guilty of trading in child pornography in some cases. That was the 6-3 ruling of the Washington Supreme Court on Thursday.

The Department of Justice will not bring civil rights charges against six Baltimore police involved in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, the young black man whose death caused widespread violent protest in that city in 2015.

What was expected to be a two-day hearing on tribal sovereignty spilled into its third day Friday. The provincial government in British Columbia is appealing a landmark decision that reestablished hunting rights for members of an Indian tribe who live on both sides of the border.

Emmanuel Carrillo, center, with UNITE HERE, the Hospitality Worker's Labor Union, chants during a community rally in support of DACA recipients on Tuesday.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Updated on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 11:33 a.m.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Wednesday that his office is filing a multi-state lawsuit to defend the DACA program. Fifteen states and Washington, D.C. have joined in the complaint, filed in the Eastern District of New York. Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks have also filed declarations in support. 

Child marriage isn't just a practice that victimizes girls in poor countries. As this blog has previously reported, it's also long been an issue in the United States, involving girls from a wide range of backgrounds. Based on state marriage license data and other sources, advocacy groups and experts estimate that between 2000 and 2015 alone, well over 200,000 children — nearly all of them girls — were married. In nearly all cases the husband was an adult.

A detainee sits in the intake area at the Tacoma Detention Center in 2017.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Unlike criminal cases, immigrants don’t have access to free legal representation.

Seattle wants to change that by giving money to six community groups that help vulnerable immigrants. 


Chihuly Glass and Garden, Seattle, Washington
Flickr Photo/James Walsh (CC BY-NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/qHQGNs

Bill Radke talks to KUOW arts reporter Marcie Sillman and Seattle glass artist Benjamin Moore about a lawsuit that has been filed against Dale Chihuly and how artists work with assistants to create their pieces. 

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

President Trump has exercised clemency power for the first time in his young presidency to bestow a pardon on former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio, 85, had faced sentencing Oct. 5 for a criminal contempt conviction in connection with his failure to follow a federal court order in a racial profiling case. Justice Department prosecutors argued he indiscriminately targeted Latinos and detained them without evidence they had broken the law.

Two Washington state inmates at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center near Aberdeen have filed a civil rights complaint in federal court over prison shaving policies.

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant
KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Two Seattle police officers who shot and killed Che Taylor, an African-American man, last year are suing City Councilmember Kshama Sawant for defamation.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has made a name for himself this year by battling the Trump administration in court. Now he wants to take on tribal governments at the U.S. Supreme Court over salmon.

Dozens of murals hang on the walls at the Northwest Detention Center. They're painted by detainees, and the designs must be approved by staff. Painting is also considered a voluntary job, and the artists are paid $1 per day for their work.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

A federal program that gives legal status to some undocumented youth is under legal threat.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was established five years ago under President Barack Obama. But a deadline is looming that could dismantle the program.  

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions was asked how he viewed the car attack in Charlottesville, Va., here's how he responded:

"It does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute," he told ABC's Good Morning America.

That certainly seems to suggest the government is looking into a possible terrorism charge against the suspect, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. At Saturday's rally organized by white supremacists, a car slammed into counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.

Charleena Lyles' father, Charles Lyles, with his wife and attorneys
KUOW Photo/Kate Walters

The family of Charleena Lyles has filed a legal claim against the city of Seattle. Lyles, an African American mother of four, was fatally shot by police in June.

This claim is the first step toward bringing a civil rights wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the Seattle Police Department.

Five openly transgender members of the U.S. military are suing President Trump and other leaders of the U.S. government over Trump's declaration, over Twitter, that trans people will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. The suit alleges that Trump's directive is "arbitrary and capricious," unconstitutionally depriving the service members of due process.

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.

Bill Radke speaks with Eugene Volokh and Dr. Jim Sulton Jr. about race-based college admissions.

Washington state passed a law in 1998 that prevented colleges from using affirmative action. Sulton says that the law has harmed students of color by sending a message that they are not welcome, and that affirmative action allows for a more diverse campus.

Volokh argues that studies show affirmative action has harmed students of all races by shifting the focus away from education and creates divisions between different groups.

Volokh is a law school professor at UCLA and Sulton is the former executive director of the Higher Education Coordinating Board. 

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