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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Court rejects challenge to signature rule

From Wire Reports

OLYMPIA – A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit of Appeals has rejected a challenge to Washington state’s policy on releasing signature petitions on initiatives and referendums.

The court’s ruling Tuesday is the latest in a long-running case over the public release of signatures submitted for 2009’s Referendum 71, which voters passed, upholding the state’s so-called “everything by marriage” expansion to the state’s domestic partnership law.

Opponents of the expansion, who had gathered the signatures to get R-71 on the ballot, had said people would be subject to harassment if the signatures were released. But the court said that the issue was moot, since the state released the signatures last year. The U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8-1 ruling in 2010, said the policy did not infringe on First Amendment rights but said that opponents could file an “as-applied” challenge on a particular measure, which is how the case ended up back before the 9th Circuit.

Gun discharges in car, wounding boy

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. – Police in the central Washington community of Sunnyside say a 3-year-old boy was critically injured when a gun discharged in a vehicle in which he was a passenger.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports he was sent to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment of a gunshot to the head.

Police say the boy was shot Monday night. He was not identified.

Officers say they think the gun was fired accidentally. The vehicle and gun were seized and the investigation continues.

Seattle-area gang sweep nets 33 arrests

SEATTLE – The U.S. attorney in Seattle said a three-month, multi-agency investigation that targeted upper-level gang members in south Seattle and nearby communities has resulted in 33 arrests.

Jenny Durkan said Tuesday the “Hot Spot” initiative also seized nearly 14 pounds of methamphetamine as well as 28 firearms.

The probe was led by federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation and included local law enforcement agencies. It focused on Kent, Renton and Tukwila in addition to south Seattle.

Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said such an operation is necessary “to deal with the worst of the worst gang members so our programs of prevention and intervention will have a real opportunity to be successful.”

A similar initiative directed at the White Center area resulted in more than 50 arrests last year, as well as drug and gun seizures.

Sheriff dies of self-inflicted gunshot

CATHLAMET, Wash. – The sheriff of Wahkiakum County in southwest Washington has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a county spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Sheriff Jon Dearmore, 50, died about 5 p.m. at his home, spokeswoman Marsha LaFarge said.

The sheriff’s office received a call from Dearmore’s wife reporting a gunshot in his home, the spokeswoman said, adding she did not know whether anyone witnessed the shooting.

LaFarge said she did not know the circumstances of the shooting at the home, which is in the Rosburg area in the west end of the county. Wahkiakum County lies along the Columbia River.

Dearmore had been sheriff for two years and had been in law enforcement for more than 25 years, LaFarge said.

The Cowlitz County sheriff’s office will handle the investigation, she said.

Dearmore is survived by his wife and a college-age daughter, the spokeswoman said.

Man fatally shot in hunting accident

DILLON, Mont. – A 56-year-old man was shot and killed by a stray bullet while hunting in Beaverhead County over the weekend.

Sheriff Jay Hansen said Edward Anderson of Superior was shot in the chest while hunting in the Black Mountain area west of Dillon Sunday.

Witnesses said Anderson had been in an area where other hunters were shooting earlier in the morning. Hansen said Anderson had a wife and three children.

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