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
12:54 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

ACLU Report Shows Sharp Drop In Pot Charges In Wash. State After Legalization

ACLU

You might assume that after voters passed Initiative 502, making adult possession of marijuana legal, the number of prosecutions for pot would drop. Now, there’s proof to back up that assumption.

The American Civil Liberties Union analyzed court data from around the state, looking specifically at filings for low-level marijuana offenses. The numbers show a huge decrease.

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Death Penalty
5:00 am
Thu February 27, 2014

How The Murder Of A Loved One Forced One Death Penalty Foe To Reexamine Stance

Former State Senator Debbie Regala stands in front of a painting by her late brother-in-law, who was murdered.
Paula Wissel

Former state Sen. Debbie Regala says when her brother-in-law was strangled in 1980, her family had to ponder what they would want to have happen when the murderer was found.

She says she was angry, but in the end, it didn't change her long-standing opposition to capital punishment.

"Executing them doesn't make me feel any better. It doesn't bring them [the victims] back. It doesn't heal the terrible hurt that you feel," she said during an interview in her Tacoma home.

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Jazz and Blues
9:36 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Three Local Schools, Including First-Timer, Named Finalists In Essentially Ellington

Rooseveltjazz.org

Three western Washington high schools are among the 15 finalists in the annual Essentially Ellington competition and festival in New York.

Garfield High School, Roosevelt High School and first-timer Mount Si High School will compete against other finalists from around the country at the Lincoln Center in May. 

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Civil Rights
8:56 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Seattle Civil Rights Leader Honored With Street Sign

Reverend Sam McKinney
Ashley Gross

A street in Seattle’s central area has been named Reverend Dr. S. McKinney Avenue, for the local civil rights leader.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an ordinance  Wednesday, February 12, designating 19th Avenue, from East Union to East Madison Street, Reverend Dr. S. McKinney Avenue.

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Poverty
7:55 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Court-Ordered Fines Result In Modern-Day Debtors' Prisons, Says ACLU

Valerie Bodeau, who was homeless at the time, was jailed for missing payments on $7000 court ordered fines.
Paula Wissel

A report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and Columbia Legal Services claims court imposed fees in Washington state have resulted in modern-day debtors’ prisons.

The report documents cases of people being locked up because they couldn't make payments on their fines.

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We Are The Champions
12:56 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Some 700,000 Fans Pack Seattle Streets For Seahawks' Victory Parade

Kam Chancellor holds up the Lombardi trophy.
Justin Steyer KPLU

The 12th Man showed up in full force for the Seattle Seahawks’ victory parade on Wednesday. Seattle police estimated some 700,000 people braved the cold to line the streets and cheer for the Super Bowl champions. 

"I think it just gives us a sense of pride. It's given everyone something to rally around and be excited about. It's just brought joy to so many people here," said Lesli Burns, a fan.

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Super Bowl XLVIII
5:00 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Some Seahawks Fans Plan To Party Like It's 1979

Sonics 1979 NBA Championship poster
Paula Wissel

Some fans who will be watching the Seahawks victory parade today are remembering another time when the city turned out to celebrate a major sports victory.

It was June of 1979 and the Seattle SuperSonics had just won the NBA championship.

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Super Bowl XLVIII
12:27 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

What You Need To Know For The Seahawks Victory Parade

Wikimedia Commons

The Seahawks will be riding the Ducks in Wednesday’s parade through downtown Seattle, but there's no word yet on whether they’ll be issued quacker noisemakers.

City spokesman Kyle Moore says the players, coaches and dignitaries, including Gov. Jay Inslee, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine, will be in about two dozen amphibious Ride the Duck vehicles, which are more often associated with tourist excursions.

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Super Bowl XLVIII
7:42 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Seahawks Fans Snap Up Merchandise After Historic Win

Shoppers browse and buy at The Pro Shop at CenturyLink Field.
Paula Wissel

The day after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, the team store at CenturyLink Field was doing brisk business. Fans crowded into the space, buying everything from towels to shirt to hats sporting the Super Bowl XLVIII logo.

Arby Asatorrians, who'd already waited in line to buy a hat, was holding a souvenir football he planned to purchase. 

“We were already downtown last night, celebrating after the game. I was wanting something to commemorate having a piece of the Super Bowl,” he said.  

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Super Bowl XLVIII
5:06 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Seahawks Fans Wait In Rain To Sign New York-Bound 12th Man Flag

Seattle Seahawks fans sign a 25-by-35-foot "12th Man" flag, which honors fans, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, near the Space Needle in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

The rain didn’t dampen the spirit of Seahawks fans who turned out in force for a rally and flag signing at the Seattle Center on Wednesday.

After Mayor Ed Murray and former Seahawks players spoke from an open air stage, a 12th man flag that had flown on top of the Seattle Space Needle was taken down and put in a tent. Fans lined up to sign it.

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Advertising
4:07 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Seattle Sues To Get Rid Of Wall Billboards

Seen at 127 First Ave. N. in Seattle.
City of Seattle

Seattle is suing Total Outdoor, a national advertising company, over the giant ads the company puts on the sides of buildings in the city. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says the signs are a flagrant violation of a long-standing Seattle ordinance meant to limit billboards in the city.

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Privacy Law
4:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Court To Lawyers: Not OK To Secretly Record Phone Calls As Evidence

Chris Campbell Flickr

Secretly-recorded phone calls are not protected under law even when done in the course of gathering evidence for a lawsuit, law firms were told in a state court ruling.

The Court of Appeals case grew out of the surreptitious recording of a former executive with a technology-engineering firm by lawyers at the Seattle law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine.

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Crime
4:30 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Copper Thieves Leave Tacoma Streets In The Dark For Months

Some streets in Tacoma will be in the dark for at least another six weeks, maybe longer. Thieves have been stealing copper wire from street lamps and city workers haven’t been able to keep up with repairs.

The theft of copper wire is nothing new. But this winter, Tacoma has been especially hard hit. Curtis Kingsolver, director of public works for the city of Tacoma, says for the first 10 months of the year, the city had about one copper wire theft-related street light outage a month.

“But, in the last two months of 2013, we had 56 outages, so we just had this huge rash of occurances that it’s been very demanding for us,” he said.

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Legal Marijuana
11:36 am
Thu January 16, 2014

State Attorney General: Cities Can Block Pot Business

File image
Matilde Campodonico AP Photo

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says cities and counties can block licensed marijuana businesses from operating.

In a long-awaited opinion Thursday, Ferguson says the state's legal marijuana law, Initiative 502, leaves local governments the option of adopting moratoriums or bans that prohibit licensed grow operations, processing facilities or retail shops from their jurisdictions.

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Open Records
5:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Locking Out Homeless? Seattle Man Wants More Information From City

Outlets in the Armory, formerly the Seattle Center House, are blocked with covers and padlocks.
Paula Wissel

One Seattle man says he’s on a quest to expose why the Seattle Center blocked off use of power outlets in public spaces, and he is arguing his case before the Washington state Appeals Court today.

In September of 2012, Howard Gale noticed Seattle Center staff putting covers and padlocks on all of the electrical outlets, not long after the center had been remodeled and the outlets had been installed. 

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