law and courts | KUOW News and Information

law and courts

It happens thousands of times a year in Washington state: someone who isn’t allowed to own a gun tries to buy one but is denied after a background check. But even though it’s a crime to lie on a background check form, police rarely if ever investigate these cases.

For decades, U.S. authorities have been preparing to prosecute one of the world's most feared drug traffickers, known as El Chapo.

Friday, the Justice Department announced charges against Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman following his extradition from Mexico to the United States. He landed Thursday evening on Long Island, N.Y., and Friday afternoon entered a plea of not guilty at a federal court in Brooklyn.

Standing on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon, Simon Tam, the bassist and frontman of the Asian-American rock group The Slants, was fired up. He'd just watched as most of the eight justices questioned whether the government should back his right to use his band's name, which is a racial slur.

"If the government really truly cared about fighting racist messages they would have canceled the registrations for numerous white supremacist groups before they even approached our case," he told a crowd of reporters.

Mexico has extradited to the United States its most notorious drug trafficker, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, according to statements from officials of both countries.

A statement by the U.S. Justice Department says Guzman landed Thursday evening at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, N.Y. The department also says he faces six separate indictments around the country for crimes "in connection with his leadership of the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel."

The global money service company Western Union has admitted it helped people commit wire fraud, among other criminal violations, and agreed to pay $586 million.

The settlement is the result of an investigation that found Western Union was "willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program," the Justice Department said in a statement.

Noor Salman, the wife of the man who killed 49 people last June at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., has pleaded not guilty to two federal charges.

Salman was arrested earlier this week and charged with providing material support to a terrorist and obstruction of justice for allegedly knowing about Omar Mateen's plan to slaughter people at the nightclub.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Mateen was killed by police.

In Washington state, there’s no law to keep you from checking Facebook while you drive. But that could change during this year’s legislative session. Lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday that could force you to cut down your phone use on the road -- or pay a hefty fine if you get caught.

In this Nov. 20, 2008, file photo, the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown with the witness gallery behind glass at right, in Walla Walla, Wash.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Bill Radke speaks with State Senator Steve O'Ban and Seattle attorney Jason Rittereiser about the proposal by the attorney general's office to abolish the death penalty in Washington State. 

Senator Jeff Sessions.
FLICKR PHOTO/Gage Skidmore (CC by SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/av61Fy

Bill Radke speaks with Puget Sound Business Journal digital editor Greg Lamm about the impact Jeff Sessions could have on Washington's marijuana and tech industries if he is confirmed as the U.S. attorney general.

Should it be easier to criminally charge police officers in Washington who use deadly force? A legislative task force said “yes” -- but the vote was far from unanimous.

Washington lawmakers are undecided on the issue as they convene Monday for their 2017 session.

A circuit court judge in Baltimore has denied bail to Adnan Syed, the man whose conviction for a 1999 murder was the subject of the podcast Serial. Syed will remain in jail while he awaits a new trial. Syed was convicted in 2000 in the killing of his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee, and sentenced to life in prison. A judge vacated that conviction last June.

Cody Lee Miller, known internationally as #manintree, about five years ago in Roseburg, Oregon. He lived there with his grandmother.
Courtesy of Lisa Gossett

Lisa Gossett was home in Alaska when her sister called about a YouTube video.

Gossett’s son had climbed an 80-foot sequoia tree in downtown Seattle, stayed there for 25 hours and inspired an international hashtag, #manintree.

President Donald Trump
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9hKraP

University of Washington law students will keep a close watch on President-elect Donald Trump during his first months in office.

The law school is offering a brand-new course on presidential power.


On Jan. 20, 2016, exactly a year before a new president would be sworn into office, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia announced the court's 8-to-1 decision reinstating the death penalty for two Kansas brothers.

It was the last time the 79-year-old Scalia would announce an opinion. Three weeks later, on a hunting trip in Texas, the conservative icon died in his sleep.

Updated at 8:00 p.m. ET

The North Carolina Legislature began a special session on Wednesday morning to vote on the repeal of a controversial state law that limits civil rights protections for LGBT people, but the effort failed by day's end as the Legislature adjourned without passing any bill.

A California judge has been cleared of misconduct after sentencing a Stanford University student to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a woman earlier this year.

"The California Commission on Judicial Performance ruled Monday that there was no evidence that Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky displayed bias in handing down a sentence decried as too lenient by critics across the country," The Associated Press reported.

North Carolina's Legislature is poised to repeal the controversial "bathroom bill," after the Charlotte City Council unanimously voted to repeal its local anti-discrimination measure.

The state law, called House Bill 2 or HB2, was passed in March as a direct response to that Charlotte measure — over the course of 12 hours, in the state's first special legislative session in 35 years.

Now the law might be rolled back in another special session, again following a decision by the Charlotte City Council.

law court crime
Flickr Photo/Joe Gratz (CC BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/bkUna

The federal courthouse in Seattle helped pilot the use of cameras in courtrooms. But the governing body for federal judges has now pulled the plug on the cameras.

Ammon Bundy, center, one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, walks off after speaking with reporters during a news conference at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, near Burns, Ore.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Kim Malcolm talks with Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Conrad Wilson about the upcoming federal trial of a second group of defendants charged in the armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. In October, a group of seven defendants, including occupation leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were acquitted of conspiracy.

The man accused of murdering nine people in a church basement in Charleston, S.C., last year told investigators he is guilty, according to a confession video played in court on Friday.

The jury in the trial of Dylan Roof, 22, watched an excerpt of a nearly two-hour conversation between Roof and investigators from the FBI, recorded shortly after he was taken into custody.

Roof faces 33 federal hate crimes charges. The federal government is seeking the death penalty.

Patricia Aguilar, 21, began working at DeRuyter Brothers Dairy in central Washington nearly three years ago. She worked at the dairy's milking parlor, which she says handles about 3000 cows three times each day, seven days a week. Aguilar was one of four dairy workers responsible for pushing and guiding the cows into the parlor, connecting the animals to milking machines, wiping them and the machinery down, and cleaning towels and milk tanks.

Washington state is suing agro-chemical giant Monsanto. For decades Monsanto was the sole producer of PCB, an organic chlorine compound. The state is seeking damages and cleanup costs associated with the chemicals.

An environmental group filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing Washington state of failing to control water pollution along the coast and Puget Sound.

Portland-based Northwest Environmental Advocates is asking a U.S. district court to force two federal agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – to cut funding to the state as a form of punishment.

There are plenty of recent stories involving white police officers who have shot and killed black men, including some who are on trial for those shootings. Then there's the case of a white cop who did not shoot a black man holding a gun — and it may have cost him his job.

It started with a 911 call for help in Weirton, W.Va., on May 6 at 2:51 a.m. An emergency dispatcher in turn put out a call for an officer.

"Had a female stating they needed someone right now. She sounded hysterical," the dispatcher said. "Hung up the phone, will not answer on call back."

Juan Munoz, of Tijuana, Mexico, carries two-year-old Haitian migrant Juandele at a shelter for migrants on their way to the United States and for deported migrants Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in Tijuana, Mexico.
AP Photo/Gregory Bull

Five hundred or so Haitian immigrants are currently being held at detention facilities in Tacoma and Yakima, according to attorneys with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle.

The detainees are mostly young men who left Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, spent a few years on work permits in Brazil, then recently migrated to the U.S.-Mexico border to seek humanitarian relief. 

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

The judge in the murder trial of former North Charleston, S.C., police Officer Michael Slager declared a mistrial on Monday after the jury said it could not come to a unanimous decision.

"We as the jury regret to inform the court that, despite the best efforts of all members, we are unable to come to an unanimous decision in the case of the State vs. Michael Slager," a letter from the foreman of the jury read.

The man accused of killing nine people during a Bible study in Charleston, S.C., last year has rehired his defense attorneys to represent him in the first phase of his federal murder trial.

Dylann Roof, 22, faces 33 federal hate crimes charges for walking into the basement of a historically black church and sitting among worshipers before opening fire, according to prosecutors. The government is seeking the death penalty.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

The jury in the murder trial of former North Charleston, S.C., police Officer Michael Slager told the judge on Friday afternoon that it's having trouble coming to a unanimous verdict.

They will resume deliberating Monday.

Slager is accused of murder for shooting Walter Scott multiple times as he ran away from the officer in 2015, after a routine traffic stop.

The Obama administration is challenging a federal judge's decision last month to block the implementation of a new rule that would have made 4 million more Americans eligible for overtime pay.

The Department of Labor and its co-defendants filed a notice of appeal at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Thursday, the same day that the rule was set to take effect before the temporary injunction was issued.

Princess Cruises will pay a $40 million fine for "deliberate pollution of the seas and intentional acts to cover it up," according to the Department of Justice, which calls it "the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution."

The California-based cruise operator also agreed to plead guilty to seven felony charges over illegal practices on five ships dating back, in at least one case, to 2005.

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