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

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Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The Washington state Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty violates the state Constitution.

Brett Kavanaugh is a Supreme Court justice. That much is certain after senators narrowly approved his controversial nomination Saturday, putting an end to his bitter confirmation battle with a slim vote in his favor.

But even as one phase of Kavanaugh's story ends, another is beginning: His lifetime tenure on the highest court in the U.S. And this story promises to last much longer.

Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

In an unusual weekend session, the U.S. Senate advances to a final vote on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Watch the proceedings live.

Updated at 8:41 p.m. ET

Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate on Friday, and his confirmation now seems all but certain, after a key swing vote, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, declared her support in a speech on the Senate floor.

Moments after Collins completed her remarks, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced in a statement that he too will support the nomination when it comes up for a final vote.

That final vote is expected as soon as Saturday.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET Saturday

President Trump has ordered the FBI to conduct a limited "supplemental investigation" into his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, to update the judge's background check, following a deal struck by Senate Republicans to move the nomination forward.

The move comes after Senate Republicans agreed to delay a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination to give the FBI one week to look into the allegation of sexual assault brought against him by Christine Blasey Ford, which the federal appeals court judge denies.

Updated at 8:47 p.m. ET

Judge Brett Kavanaugh was defiant and visibly angry as he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday afternoon, rebutting earlier emotional testimony from the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford.

  

A Washington man with tribal roots in Canada is back in court Wednesday in British Columbia. The nearly decade-long case could set precedent for tribal sovereignty issues in Canada.

Updated at 10:55 p.m. ET

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh weathered another long day of questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.

He was pressed once again for his views on presidential power.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., sought a promise from Kavanaugh that he would be willing to serve as a check on the president who nominated him.

Updated at 10:21 p.m. ET

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is presenting himself as an open-minded judge who is guided by the law but not indifferent to the effects of his decisions, during a marathon day of confirmation hearings.

"I don't live in a bubble," Kavanaugh told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I base my decisions on the law, but I do so with an awareness of the facts and an awareness of the real-world consequences."

Updated at 5:22 p.m ET

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh opened on a contentious note Tuesday, with Senate Democrats raising noisy objections that much of Kavanaugh's lengthy paper trail is still off limits.

The hearing proceeded despite Democrats' call for delay. Republicans, who control the Senate, hope to confirm Kavanaugh in time to join the high court when its fall term begins next month, cementing a 5-4 conservative majority.

A federal judge in Washington State has extended a court order blocking a Texas-based company called Defense Distributed from posting designs for 3D-printed guns on the Internet.

U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik previously issued a temporary restraining order at the end of July blocking the designs; now he has granted a preliminary injunction, which bars the designs from being posted online until a court case is resolved.

Updated at 7:03 p.m. ET

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, has pleaded guilty to eight counts in federal court in New York, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday evening.

They include five counts of tax evasion, one count of falsifying submissions to a bank and two counts involving unlawful campaign contributions.

Updated at 6:26 p.m. ET

A federal jury on Tuesday found Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, guilty on eight of the 18 charges he faced in his tax and bank fraud trial.

The verdict delivered a painful fall from grace for a top political operative who has advised presidents from Gerald Ford to Donald Trump and a shot in the arm to an investigation derided by President Trump as a "witch hunt."

For years, mentally ill inmates in this state have languished in county jails awaiting state evaluations to determine if they're competent to stand trial.

But according to a legal settlement announced this Thursday, people with mental illness who are caught up in Washington state’s criminal justice system would get more services.

In cases when inmates are found not competent, they often wait weeks or months more to get a bed at a state hospital.

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington state in 2012 resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of people sentenced for marijuana-related felonies, according to an analysis conducted for public radio by the Washington State Caseload Forecast Council.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

SEATTLE (AP) — The mayor of Seattle on Tuesday picked interim Police Chief Carmen Best to lead the department on a permanent basis as it tries to sustain reforms designed to eliminate biased policing and unnecessary force.

Updated at 9:38 p.m. ET

The Justice Department charged 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday with a litany of alleged offenses related to Russia's hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails, state election systems and other targets in 2016.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who announced the indictments, said the Russians involved belonged to the military intelligence service GRU. They are accused of a sustained cyberattack against Democratic Party targets, including its campaign committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET

With just hours to go before the official announcement, President Trump has made a decision on his pick for the next Supreme Court justice, a source close to the decision-making process tells NPR's Mara Liasson.

But there is still no indication which of the four finalists it will be.

As of Monday morning, Trump was still deciding among Judges Thomas Hardiman, Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has been particularly aggressive in filing lawsuits against the Trump administration, but the prospect of a new justice on the U.S. Supreme Court has implications for what happens to those cases, according to one local law professor.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Washington state has the third-highest rate of union membership in the country, after New York and Hawaii. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 only applies to workers in the public sector, private-sector unions here said they face implications as well.

Last year, the Washington state Supreme Court granted the Yakama Nation the right to transport goods and services across state lines without taxation. Attorneys and tribal members called it a landmark case for tribal sovereignty. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review it.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

Raphael A. Sanchez, who was chief counsel at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Seattle when he opened credit cards and took out loans using the personal information of vulnerable immigrants, has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Updated at 5:54 p.m. ET

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday, setting the stage for what promises to be an epic political battle over his replacement.

A Trump nominee is likely to be far more conservative than Kennedy, who, though appointed by President Ronald Reagan, voted with the court's liberals in some key cases.

Updated at 10:50 a.m. ET

In a blow to organized labor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that government workers who choose not to join a union cannot be charged for the cost of collective bargaining.

The vote was a predictable 5-4. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion with the court's conservatives joining him.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

In a 5-4 ruling that gave broad leeway to presidential authority, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump's travel ban that barred nearly all travelers from five mainly Muslim countries as well as North Korea and Venezuela.

The president's proclamation was "squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the INA," the court wrote in its majority opinion, referring to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

"A moment of profound vindication"

Will James / KNKX

Washington is leading a coalition of states planning to sue the Trump administration over its policy of separating children from parents who are detained while crossing illegally or seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Some online sales are about to start costing more.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that states can require retailers to collect and remit sales taxes on out-of-state purchases. The 5-to-4 decision reversed decades-old decisions that protected out-of-state vendors from sales tax obligations unless the vendor had a physical presence in the state.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it has acquired new space in federal prisons to house immigrant detainees — more than 1,600 beds.

Because of a "current surge in illegal border crossings" and the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance policy," ICE entered into agreements with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the agency said Thursday.

Two candidates for the Washington Supreme Court have been disqualified from appearing on the November ballot.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a narrowly focused ruling Monday that favored Masterpiece Cakes, a Colorado bakery, which refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

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