law and courts | KUOW News and Information

law and courts

KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Washington state lawmakers are poised to impose tougher laws against drivers caught driving drunk. They were moved to action following two fatal crashes involving drivers with previous DUIs.

Same Sex Marriage: What Happens Next?

May 1, 2013
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Last November Washington became the first state to legalize same sex marriage at the polls but today we want to check in on what is happening with the same-sex marriage debate in and out of the Evergreen State.

Governor Inslee Pushes For Tougher DUI Penalties

Apr 18, 2013
Flickr Photo/Renee Silverman

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average drunken driver has driven drunk 80 times before their first arrest. Here in Washington after a rather horrific spree of drunk driving related deaths, the governor is getting tough on drunken drivers by proposing tougher penalties for first-, second- and third-time offenders. One of the governor's more strident proposals would ban third-time offenders from purchasing alcohol. In this segment of the conversation listeners share their thoughts on these new and tougher proposed penalties.

Why Was Pete Holmes In Copenhagen?

Apr 16, 2013

Pete Holmes is Seattle’s city attorney and that means his clients include the mayor, the City Council, the police and the public. Pete Holmes previously worked as a private attorney in Seattle for almost 25 years before being elected city attorney in November 2009. He was also an original member of the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB) and served as chairman from 2003 to 2008. Ross Reynolds talks with Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes about the recent retirement of Police Chief John Diaz, the Department of Justice and what he was doing in Copenhagen. 

Corporations Are People Too In Identity Theft Law

Apr 12, 2013
Temple of Justice, Washington Supreme Court, Olympia
Flickr Photo/Aidan Wakely-Mulroney/https://flic.kr/p/dsJvKb

The Supreme Court of Washington ruled Thursday that a corporation can be a victim of identity theft just like a person can under state law. The law makes it a felony to steal the identity of a “person, living or dead.”

Are Washington's DUI Laws Tough Enough?

Apr 10, 2013
Flickr Photo/Chimpr

Washington Governor Jay Inslee wants to crackdown on drunken drivers in the wake of some recent tragedies involving intoxicated drivers. Today, Ross Reynolds talks with New York University Langone Medical Center professor, Baron Lerner about how DUI laws and enforcement in Washington compare nationally.

PRNewsFoto/Sikh Coalition

It’s a story you may have heard before: A drunk guy gets in a cab. His driver has dark skin, a beard and a turban. The passenger calls the driver racial names and beats him so viciously, the driver lands in the hospital and the passenger goes to jail.

An obscure tax code provision crafted for drug dealers is giving state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries a headache.

In Colorado, federal income tax rates for dispensaries can soar as high as 70 percent because of a tax code section that does not allow businesses to claim certain deductions.

The section is known as 280E, and it was originally written for illegal drug traffickers. But today it's a thorn in the side of licensed dispensary owners like Erica Freeman.

King County Jail in downtown Seattle.
King County Photo

If you’re booked into a King County jail, you’ll stay an extra month on average if immigration officials want to review your file. That’s even if you haven’t been charged with a crime.

(We most recently updated the top of this post at 1:45 p.m. ET.)

There seem to be four solid votes on the Supreme Court — and possibly a fifth — to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages, NPR's Nina Totenberg told us after Wednesday's oral arguments before the nine justices.

But there's a big "if."

As in: There's possibly a 5-vote majority to strike down the law if the court first decides it should even issue an opinion.

Courtesy Photo

At the Duwamish Longhouse in West Seattle, Cecile Hansen traces her finger down a plaque of names. “Look at all our leaders, starting with the chief here,” Hansen says.

Amanda Knox may never again set foot in Italy. But that doesn't mean she won't face another trial there.

Courts around the world — particularly in Italy — have shown themselves willing to try people in absentia.

(Our most recent update was at 12:50 p.m. ET.)

Temple of Justice, Washington Supreme Court, Olympia
Flickr Photo/Aidan Wakely-Mulroney/https://flic.kr/p/dsJvKb

If you’re not a police officer, imagine you are one.

Picture yourself perched on the second floor of a building in Belltown. You see someone selling drugs. You radio a fellow officer on the ground and tell him to arrest a guy on a misdemeanor charge of drug loitering. Your partner searches him and finds crack.

Ask State Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Mar 22, 2013
Bob Ferguson
Courtesy/Washington State Attorney General Office

Last November, Bob Ferguson became Washington state’s 18th attorney general. One of the biggest issues he faces is how the federal government will approach legalized marijuana in Washington state. Ferguson met with Attorney General Eric Holder in January and so far, a clear policy has yet to emerge. Ferguson says if legalized marijuana is challenged by the feds, he'll defend it. What questions do you have for Attorney General Bob Ferguson? What should his priorities be? Call us at 800.289.5869 or email weekday@kuow.org.

Advances in forensic technology are showing that what used to be considered clear-cut proof of guilt may be nothing of the kind. A California case highlights a growing problem facing courts: what to do when an expert witness changes his mind because of better science and technology.

William Richards was convicted of brutally murdering his wife and is serving 25 years to life. The evidence against him was mostly circumstantial and two different juries were unable to reach a verdict. A third trial was aborted because the judge recused himself.

Rev. Sandy Brown
Amy Radil

Gun control advocates are regrouping this week. They’re looking at their options, now that a bill to broaden background checks for gun sales failed in the Washington Legislature. They want to seize a moment when they believe public sentiment is on their side.

Joseph McEnroe
AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey

Both of King County’s death penalty cases are on hold pending appeal to the Washington Supreme Court. A key issue in both cases is whether the defendants have experienced any hardships that should have required prosecutors to be more lenient.

Ric Feld / AP Photo

Yesterday in Olympia the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would compensate people who served time in prison for crimes they didn’t commit and were exonerated of. The exonerated people would be given $50,000 for each year spent behind bars. This isn’t the first time this legislation has been proposed but it is the first time that it has bipartisan support. Ross Reynolds takes a closer look at the bill and who it's intended to help.

Washington state is in the process of changing the language in state law to make it more gender neutral. Policemen are now police officers, for instance, and freshmen will become first-year students. Supporters say the change is needed because language matters. Critics say the changes are a waste of money. Ross Reynolds interviews University of Washington Sociolinguist Crispin Thurlow, and we take your phone calls.

Flickr photo/Doran

“Under Washington law, is a consumer entitled to emotional distress damages when a fast-food employee spits in his or her hamburger even though the consumer did not eat the hamburger?” The Washington Supreme Court said Thursday that the answer may be yes.

Rules Of The Road

Jan 16, 2013
Officer John Abraham
Seattle Police Deparment

Are you ever driving down the street and you see something happen in traffic and wonder, is that allowed? Well, today on The Conversation you can get that traffic question answered. Ross Reynolds sits down with Officer John Abraham to answer your questions about passing on the left, rolling through a stop, car pool lanes, tail gating, turn signals and much, much more.

Associated Press

A Washington family is scheduled to return home Saturday with days to spare before a new Russian law bans American families from adopting Russian children.

Sean Green marijuana collective
Amy Radil

Sean Green is the owner of Pacific Northwest Medical, a medical marijuana collective in the city of Shoreline. Today he’s wearing a suit and tie, a vestige of his former career in real estate. Green says he supported Initiative 502, but he’s celebrating legalization by turning off his phones. That’s because he’s gotten so many calls from recreational users who are under the delusion that it’s now legal for Green to sell them marijuana.

A tribal court on the Umatilla Indian Reservation is one of the first to hand-down a long prison term under new tougher criminal sentencing laws enacted by Congress in 2010.

It used to be that tribes could only sentence a Native American criminal to up to one year of jail time -- no matter the crime. Typically the U.S. Justice Department was called in for everything else -– but many cases were dropped.

Now, tribal courts have the power to sentence native criminals who commit crimes on a reservation up to three years per count, for up to nine years.

Cars Caught Speeding On Camera Now Get $189 Tickets

Nov 26, 2012

Starting Monday, drivers who speed past any of four Seattle schools will get tickets in the mail. Vehicles that go more than 20 miles per hour when school is in session are caught on camera.

The four schools with speed cameras are Thurgood Marshall Elementary on the I-90 lid, Gatewood Elementary in West Seattle, and Olympic View Elementary and Broadview Thomson K-8 in the north end.

The Seattle City Council recently passed a new law requiring property inspections on tenant properties.  How will the new law affect you? 

Evan Loeffler is a real estate attorney whose practice emphasizes landlord-tenant relations. He explains the new law and answers your questions about tenants’ rights, landlords’ rights, and how to handle disputes.

US Supreme Court
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Despite their political differences, the young and ambitious Harvard Law graduates and Harvard Law Review alumni President Obama and Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts share many similarities. We talk with Jeffrey Toobin, author of the new book “The Oath: The Obama White House and The Supreme Court,” about the battles and truces between America's judicial and executive branches – from inauguration day to the recent Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

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