Judge issues early ruling in CHOP neighbors’ lawsuit, and it doesn’t look good for the city

This afternoon, U.S. District Curt Judge Thomas Zilly issued his first substantive opinion in the lawsuit filed by businesses and residents neighboring the CHOP. The lawsuit alleges that the City of Seattle violated their property rights and denied them equal protection under the law by allowing the CHOP to exist as a lawless area, and in fact supporting its existence. The city had asked the court to dismiss the case entirely, and short of that to deny a class certification for plaintiffs.  Judge Zilly’s ruling on those requests is a mixed bag in terms of what he granted and denied, …

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State Supreme court throws out Initiative 976

This morning the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that Initiative 976, Tim Eyman’s most recent “$30 car tabs” effort, is unconstitutional. The Court found that the initiative contained multiple subjects and that its title was “deceptive and misleading.” It overturned a lower court ruling that largely upheld the initiative.

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Contempt charge against SPD for violating crowd-control weapon injunction inches toward evidentiary hearing

This morning U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones held a status conference with attorneys for the ACLU, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and the City of Seattle. They met to hammer out some of the details of an evidentiary hearing on whether the city should be found in contempt of Jones’s preliminary injunction restricting SPD’s use of crowd-control weapons. But those details, as it turns out, are messy.

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State-mandated court fines are sending Black people into debt — and to jail. SPD is making the problem worse.

(updated with some minor corrections in the details related to fines, fees and penalties) As one might expect for a Seattle-based institution, the Seattle Municipal Court has earned a reputation for pursuing progressive policies with regard to criminal justice reform. In recent years the Court has worked to reshape its procedures and policies for both probation and bail to address racial disparities. Most recently it has turned its attention to “legal financial obligations” or LFOs: the patchwork of fines, penalties and fees that are imposed upon those found guilty of breaking the law. The Court, in cooperation with the city’s …

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City, DOJ formally sweep SPD’s crowd-control controversy into consent decree process

This summer there have been two legal threads related to SPD’s use of crowd-control weapons:  two similar lawsuits asking for restrictions; and the Department of Justice asking for and receiving a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking implementation of the City Council’s ordinance prohibiting the police department’s use of crowd control weapons. Earlier this week there was activity in the first thread; today there was an important update in the second.

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