Paula Wissel

Law & Justice Reporter

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KPLU since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KPLU, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.

Paula's most memorable moment at KPLU: “Interviewing NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr about his ability to put current events in historical context. It’s something I aspire to.”

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Legal Marijuana
9:28 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Bellingham Store First To Open, Sell Legal Pot In Wash., Seattle Store Follows

Cale Holdsworth, of Abeline, Kan., holds up his purchase after being the first in line to buy legal recreational marijuana at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. Holdsworth had been in line since 4:00 a.m.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

The first legal sales of recreational marijuana in Washington state have begun.

Eager customers bought pot at 8 a.m. at Bellingham's Top Shelf Cannabis, one of two stores in the city north of Seattle that started selling marijuana as soon as was allowed under state regulations.

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Unions
5:08 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

What The U.S. Supreme Court Ruling On Home Health Workers Means For Wash.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on home health care workers in Illinois in the case of Harris v. Quinn could have an effect on the people who work in home care here in Washington state.

The high court ruled that home health aides in Illinois, who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, cannot be required to pay union dues or fees, even though other public employees are.

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Disability Rights
5:00 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Deaf Student Claims Medical School In Yakima Denied Him Access

Zachary Featherstone poses with his wife and daughter.
Courtesy of Zachary Featherstone.

A man who was admitted to the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, only to be told it couldn't make special accommodations for his disability, is suing the school claiming discrimination. 

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Workers' Rights
4:43 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Judge: Sakuma Brothers Farms Must Provide Housing For Migrant Workers' Families

Martin Barrera is hopeful that he'll be able to live in Sakuma's worker housing this summer along with his wife and three children.
Ashley Gross

A Skagit County Superior Court judge sided with migrant berry pickers on Thursday by ordering their employer, Sakuma Brothers Farms, to provide housing for the workers' family members. 

The workers took the farm owners to court over a new policy to no longer provide housing for workers’ family members. They argued the policy was intended as punishment for workers who went on strike last year.

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Campus Shooting
3:20 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Insanity Defense Possible In Accused SPU Shooter's Case

FILE - Shooting suspect Aaron Ybarra is led to a court hearing at a King County Jail courtroom Friday, June 6, 2014, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

The man charged with killing one student and seriously wounding two others on the campus of Seattle Pacific University on June 5 has pleaded not guilty.

On Monday attorneys for Aaron Rey Ybarra, 26, filed a notice of intent to pursue a not guilty by reason of insanity defense. The move doesn't mean they will go that route, just that they may use an insanity defense.

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Senior Thesis
5:00 am
Fri June 20, 2014

What One Former U.S. Attorney Knows Now About Making Her Case

Kate Pflaumer being sworn in as U.S. Attorney for Western Washington in 1993.
Provided by Kate Pflaumer

Editor's Note: “Senior Thesis” is a special week-long series that brings together venerable veterans in various fields with university students hoping to forge a career in the same field.

At first glance, you might think a former U.S. attorney and a man who once sued the government for spying on him wouldn’t agree on much.

But Kate Pflaumer, U.S. attorney for western Washington during the Clinton administration, and Philip Chinn, a recent graduate of Seattle University School of Law, share a passion for trial work and more.

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Human Rights
11:51 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Rep. Smith Pushes For Release of Renton Woman Being Held In Mexican Prison

Grisel Rodriguez, left, and Jose Avila, right, pose for a photo, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, in their apartment in Renton, Wash. They are holding a photo of Avila with his wife, Nestora Salgado, who has been detained since she was arrested Aug. 21, 2013.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, says the United States should be doing more to free a Renton woman being held in a Mexican prison. Nestora Salgado was arrested last August in the state of Guerrero, Mexico after helping to organize a local militia of indigenous people — something allowed under Mexican law.

Appearing alongside Salgado’s daughter and husband at a news conference in Seattle, Smith said he’s done what he can to make Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration aware of Nestora Salgado’s situation in Mexico.

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Campus Shooting
5:14 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Man Charged With SPU Shooting: 'I Want To Feel The Hate'

Shooting suspect Aaron Ybarra, left, is directed into a hearing at a King County Jail courtroom last week. Ybarra was arrested in the killing of a 19-year-old student and wounding of two other young people at Seattle Pacific University.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

The gunman who allegedly killed a student on the campus of  Seattle Pacific University last week told police he had stopped taking his anti-depressant medicine because he wanted to "feel the hate."

That was among the revelations released in charging documents filed against Aaron Rey Ybarra in King County Superior Court on Tuesday.

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Military Recruiting
4:48 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Obesity Disqualifies More Navy Recruits Than Drug Use

Rear Admiral Annie Andrews heads up recruiting for the U.S. Navy
Paula Wissel

Navy recruiters have noticed a disturbing trend among young people looking to join up: too many of them are obese.

Rear Admiral Annie Andrews, who is in charge of recruiting for the U.S. Navy, says obesity "has actually surpassed even those with drug use" as a reason for disqualification. In addition to the high rate of obesity, she says, some potential recruits are just plain out of shape. 

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Seattle Police
4:59 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Seattle Police Chief Nominee Endorses Hiring Outside Assistants

Former Boston police commissioner Kathleen O'Toole left, speaks after being introduced by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, right, as his nominee to be Seattle's new Chief of Police, Monday, May 19, 2014, in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Confirmation hearings begin today for Kathleen O'Toole, the woman nominated to be the new Seattle police chief. Kathleen O’Toole will appear before the Seattle City Council Public Safety Committee.

One issue stirring controversy among the top brass in the Seattle Police Department is O’Toole’s plan to hire assistants from outside the department.

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Seattle Police
7:00 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Seattle Police Officers File Civil Rights Complaint Over Use Of Force Policies

More than 100 Seattle police officers have filed a federal civil rights complaint against city and federal authorities.

They allege the agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Seattle restricting police  use of force has put both police and the public in danger.

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Crime
2:41 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Gatorade Helps Nab Copper Wire Thieves

Thieves stole nearly 4.5 miles of copper wire from underneath light rail line in 2010 and 2011.
Paula Wissel

A jury has found two men guilty of stealing 4.3 miles of copper wiring from Sound Transit's Light Rail System in Seattle. It’s believed to be the largest theft of metal in Washington State.

Apparently, the thieves undoing was a popular energy drink.

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U.S. Immigration Law
5:00 am
Tue May 27, 2014

This Man May Be Deported To Cambodia Before He Can Give His Brother A Kidney

Touch Hak poses with his daughter.
Courtesy of the Hak family.

A man being held in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma could help save his brother’s life by giving him a kidney.

But that won’t happen if the U.S. goes forward with plans to deport the man to Cambodia, a country he left as a baby. The case shines a light on what some consider the U.S.'s overly harsh deportation policies.

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Seattle Police
10:06 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Murray Nominates Boston's First Female Police Commissioner As New SPD Chief

Former Boston police commissioner Kathleen O'Toole left, speaks after being introduced by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, right, as his nominee to be Seattle's new Chief of Police, Monday, May 19, 2014, in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has nominated former Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole as new chief of the Seattle Police Department. 

If confirmed by the Seattle City Council, O’Toole would be the department’s first female chief.

Murray has said he wants someone who can “reform and change the culture” on the force and “restore the respect of the community.”

"We can be a national model for urban policing, and Kathleen O'Toole is the right choice to lead us there," Murray said Monday. 

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Transit Funding
9:57 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Seattle Mayor Proposes Sales Tax, Car Tab Fee Hikes To Preserve Bus Service

File image
Joe Polimeni/ General Motors/AP Photo

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray wants Seattle voters to approve both tax and fee increases to pay to keep buses running in the city and to and from the suburbs.

Murray on Tuesday announced a proposed $60 car tab increase and a sales tax increase to buy bus service back from King County Metro. Metro has said bus service will be cut this fall after the state Legislature did not find more money for transit and King County voters defeated a tax increase.

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