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In brief: Police: Man killed trying to enter home

A man died Wednesday evening after he was shot while trying to force entry through the back door of a north Spokane home, police said.

A 911 call around 7 p.m. reported a shooting on North Wall Street. Spokane County sheriff’s deputies and Spokane police both came to the scene at 6017 N. Wall St.

According to police, the man was attempting to get through the back door of the house when someone inside shot and killed him.

Several people at the scene were detained for questioning. It was unclear Wednesday night whether any arrests were made, but police said the incident was not random.

Police closed off Wall from Dalke to Central avenues for several hours during the investigation. Authorities were seeking a search warrant to obtain evidence from inside the home.

Bill would shrink state Supreme Court

OLYMPIA – In a move that would both cut the budget and offer some payback for last week’s decision overturning the supermajority for tax increases, Sen. Mike Baumgartner proposed cutting Washington state’s highest court from nine members to five.

In a bill introduced Wednesday with two Republican colleagues, the Spokane legislator said the state could save as much as $2 million a year through the reduction. It would also be in line with the court’s admonition last week to stick with clear constitutional mandates.

The bill notes that Article IV, Section 2 says the “Supreme Court shall consist of five judges,” but it omits another part of that section that says the Legislature can increase the number of judges, which it has done over the years.

To decide which justices would stay and which would go, Baumgartner’s bill suggests they draw lots. 

Fire District 9’s new chief named

Jack Cates has been named fire chief of Spokane County Fire District 9, according to a news release.

Cates, who has served as deputy chief since 2007, joined Fire District 9 in 1988 as a volunteer firefighter, the release said.

He succeeds Fire Chief Bob Anderson, who served in that job for 26 years before retiring in December.

Fire District 9 is located in Mead and encompasses about 122 square miles. The district has about 170 fire personnel – 60 staff and 110 volunteers – who operate from nine fire stations.

Applications sought for judicial post

Applications are being sought for those seeking appointment to replace U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno, who made it official last month that she is stepping down from the post.

Imbrogno last year came under fire by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich for releasing convicted felon Charles R. Wallace some three weeks before he shot two deputies during a June 19 traffic stop.

Then last month, federal defender Matt Campbell asked Imbrogno to step down from a case because of what he called a pattern of her refusal to let suspects out of jail before their cases get to trial.

Imbrogno has held the post since she was appointed on Oct. 1, 1991.

According to the court’s website, the position pays $160,080 and hopefuls have until March 29 to apply.

Imbrogno did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

Senate passes bills on education reform

OLYMPIA – The Washington state Senate on Wednesday approved a series of K-12 education reform bills meant to strengthen schools and improve learning.

Among the bills passed is one to give veto power to principals over teachers assigned to their schools. Under that bill, teachers without a school assignment could be deployed as substitutes or used in nonteaching roles and could eventually be fired.

Another bill would set up an A through F grade scale for K-12 schools. The grading system would be set up as a pilot program in a handful of schools starting in the fall. After an evaluation, it would be implemented statewide the following year.