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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ex-chief justice joins police use of force panel

A recently retired state Supreme Court justice has agreed to serve on a city commission examining how the Spokane Police Department uses force. The membership of the city’s Use of Force Commission, which was created last year to review the city’s handling of the police confrontation that resulted in the death of Otto Zehm in 2006, was announced by City Council President Ben Stuckart at Monday’s council meeting. The council is set to confirm the membership next week.

Gregoire’s budget lays out harsh cuts

OLYMPIA – Saying the state faces an economic crisis that requires deep cuts and government restructuring, Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday proposed eliminating some state programs for schools and some of the “safety net” for the poor. Her proposed 2011-’13 budget, the starting point for discussions that will dominate next year’s legislative session, calls for what she described as “devastating” reductions.

McKenna’s role in health care suit challenged

OLYMPIA – Washington state has entered both sides of a federal lawsuit challenging health care reform, and Thursday the state Supreme Court tried to figure out who had the authority to jump into the fray. The city of Seattle is suing Attorney General Rob McKenna, saying he overstepped his constitutional authority by joining a federal case in Florida against some aspects of health care reform, and wasn’t representing the interests of the taxpayers.

Ruling upholds online sex sting

The Washington Supreme Court, in a three-way opinion, has upheld the conviction of a man who tried to have sex with a 13-year-old girl he’d met online who really was a Spokane police detective. All justices agreed with the ruling that upheld the attempted second-degree child rape conviction against Mitel H. Patel, rejecting the man’s claim that the case should be thrown out because there was no actual underage victim. Two sets of judges that agreed with the overall ruling but disagreed with the majority opinion submitted separate concurring opinions.

Online gamblers argue for new deal

OLYMPIA – Is Internet poker just a 21st-century twist on the friendly game played around a kitchen table or “the crack cocaine of gambling”? That’s the question the Washington Supreme Court was asked to decide Thursday. Online gambling is illegal in Washington, and should remain that way, Assistant Attorney General Jerry Ackerman said, because it can’t be regulated and monitored like casino gambling. Internet sites can’t prevent minors from playing, or cut off compulsive gamblers, he said.

Washington justices dealt online poker question

OLYMPIA – Is Internet poker just a 21st Century twist on the friendly game played around a kitchen table or “the crack cocaine of gambling”? That’s the question the Washington Supreme Court was asked to decide today.

Editorial: Age limit for justices could use a review

Three years ago, Chief Justice Gerry Alexander ran for a state Supreme Court term he knew he couldn’t complete, thanks to Washington’s mandatory retirement age for judges. His richly funded challenger made a red-herring issue of that, but voters didn’t fall for it. Alexander won in the primary by a comfortable 88,000-plus votes. Alexander’s age returned to public attention this week after he announced he’ll turn the chief justiceship over to one of his colleagues next year and will serve out his term as an associate justice. Alexander has been chief justice since 2001, the longest tenure in that position in state history and a measure of the respect his colleagues have for him.

Alexander to step down as Wash. chief justice

Washington state Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander announced Tuesday he will step down next year from his post and serve out the remainder of his term as an associate justice.

Graffiti ‘tags’ viable evidence, high court rules

OLYMPIA – In a case that prompted analogies to the mark of Zorro, Washington's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that graffiti writers' "tags" – signed graffiti nicknames – can be used as evidence against them in court. "There is a great deal of evidence in this case showing that tags are not mere words; they are akin to signatures," wrote Chief Justice Gerry Alexander.