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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

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.

Christal Fields lost her childcare license after the Department of Early Learning found out she had a criminal record. Now she's suing in the Washington state Supreme Court to appeal the decision.
Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

Christal Fields thought she had finally shaken the decades-old conviction that had complicated much of her life. When she was banned from working in childcare two years ago, it was plain that wasn't the case.

Mikecogh/Flickr

When you think of Mother’s Day, you probably don’t think of someone sitting in jail. But the Northwest Community Bail Fund is hoping you will this year.

As part of a national effort, called 2018 Mama’s Day Bailout, the Seattle based nonprofit is trying to raise $10,000 for moms who are in jail awaiting trial because they can't afford bail.

A Washington state trooper has accused a leader in the State Patrol’s aviation unit of ordering staff to illegally delete public records and lying to the Governor’s Office about the availability of planes.

Federal prosecutors say former Washington state Auditor Troy Kelley’s conviction for tax obstruction should be dismissed because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. However, they are opposing motions by Kelley's defense to overturn his convictions on other felony charges, including possession of stolen property. 

At the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, inmates with mental illness are locked down in their cells for up to 16 hours a day, even if they pose little risk. That’s one of the allegations in a lawsuit Disability Rights Washington plans to file in federal court in Spokane on Monday.

Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo

When Seattle Police Capt. Mike Edwards says his department isn’t for everyone, he means it.

“It takes a very special person to do this work and they can only do it for so long,” Edwards said of the state's Internet Crimes Against Children task force.

Earlier this month, nearly half the inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla staged a hunger strike. It ended after five days. The inmates were protesting the quality of prison food.

It’s an issue that has been simmering in Washington prisons for years.

The owner of a seafood processing company in Pierce County, Washington, has pleaded guilty in a case involving the illegal sale of sea cucumbers, leathery creatures that are considered a delicacy to eat in some cultures.

Elaine Thompson / AP

A federal judge in Seattle says the Trump administration still has to prove its ban on transgender troops is constitutional. The judge says people who are transgender can continue serving for now.

Snohomish Co. Sheriff's Office via AP

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Authorities in Washington state on Wednesday released composite sketches based on DNA evidence of a suspect in an unsolved, 30-year-old double slaying of a young Canadian couple.

A bipartisan effort to repeal the death penalty fell short in the Washington Legislature this year. But a separate effort to overturn the state's capital punishment statute through the courts is ongoing.

The constitutional challenge to the death penalty in Washington involves the case of Allen Eugene Gregory, 45, who was sentenced to die for the 1996 rape and murder of Geneine Harshfield in Tacoma.

Three years ago, Betsy Deane's son was killed in an automobile accident. Now, the Pasco, Washington, grandmother hopes a new state law will allow her to reunite with the granddaughter she hasn’t been able to see since.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Thursday a bill aimed at shedding light on the cases of missing or murdered Native American women. 
 At the bill signing ceremony, Native women in traditional regalia performed a women’s honor song.

Activists across the country say they are being targeted by federal immigration authorities for speaking out at protests and accusing the government of heavy-handed tactics.

The Trump administration has warned that anyone in the country illegally could be arrested and deported under tough new enforcement rules. And federal officials deny allegations of retaliation.

But the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups say they have documented two dozen cases of immigrant activists and volunteers who say they have been arrested or face fines for their work.

Updated at 9:20 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is suing California and two top state officials, accusing them of interfering with federal immigration efforts by passing and enforcing state laws that hinder U.S. operations against undocumented people.

The lawsuit filed late Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento, Calif., points out that the Constitution gives the U.S. government sweeping authority over immigration.

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