Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson is a Justice Correspondent for the Washington Desk.

She covers a wide variety of stories about justice issues, law enforcement and legal affairs for NPR's flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the Newscasts and NPR.org.

While in this role, Johnson has chronicled major challenges to the landmark voting rights law, a botched law enforcement operation targeting gun traffickers along the Southwest border, and the Obama administration's deadly drone program for suspected terrorists overseas.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2010, Johnson worked at the Washington Post for 10 years, where she closely observed the FBI, the Justice Department and criminal trials of the former leaders of Enron, HealthSouth and Tyco. Earlier in her career, she wrote about courts for the weekly publication Legal Times.

Outside of her role at NPR, Johnson regularly moderates or appears on legal panels for the American Bar Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. She's talked about her work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, and other outlets.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She has been a finalist for the Loeb award for financial journalism and for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for team coverage of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas.

Johnson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Benedictine University in Illinois.

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5:32pm

Tue August 7, 2012
The Two-Way

Fast And Furious Whistle-blower Reaches Agreement Over Retaliation Claims

Peter Forcelli, an ATF agent who blew the whistle on management lapses in the gun trafficking scandal known as Fast and Furious, has reached an agreement with the bureau over his retaliation claims.

A lawyer for Forcelli declined to disclose the terms of the settlement because it was the product of a confidential mediation process.

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2:43pm

Mon August 6, 2012
The Two-Way

Men Convicted In Infamous 1984 D.C. Murder Lose Bid To Overturn Judgments

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 4:36 pm

A judge in Washington, D.C., has turned back an effort by seven men charged with a notorious 1984 murder to overturn their convictions, ruling the evidence against them remains "overwhelming" and the testimony of witnesses who changed their story are "not worthy of belief."

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12:12pm

Thu July 26, 2012
The Two-Way

Justice Department Employees Cited For Nepotism In Hiring

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 3:37 pm

The Justice Department inspector general has uncovered what he calls illegal hiring practices at the federal agency. In a new report he cites eight employees for trying to find jobs for their children and other relatives.

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5:47pm

Tue July 24, 2012
The Two-Way

Judge Orders Release Of Man Accused Of Negotiating On Behalf Of Somali Pirates

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. government to free a man accused of negotiating on behalf of Somali pirates, pending a Justice Department appeal.

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2:48pm

Mon July 23, 2012
The Two-Way

To Reduce Spending On Prisons, Justice Wants To Speed Up Release Dates

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 3:13 pm

In a theme playing out all over the country, Justice Department officials are proposing new ways to put the brakes on massive prison expenditures that have been eating up a bigger portion of their flat-lined annual budget.

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3:02am

Wed July 18, 2012
Law

For Pirates, U.S. Courts Offer No Safe Harbor

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:57 am

The German tanker Marida Marguerite, which was hijacked off the coast of Oman in 2010.
Dietmar Hasenpusch EPA/Landov

It's a bad time to be a pirate, at least in the American justice system.

Piracy on the high seas is one of the oldest crimes on the books. But U.S. authorities are using 18th century law in new ways to go after people who may never actually climb on board a ship and the men who negotiate and finance the plots.

About 1,000 pirates are in custody all over the world; about 30 of them are incarcerated in the United States.

Capturing Pirates Over Tea

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2:58pm

Thu July 12, 2012
The Two-Way

Wells Fargo Agrees To $175 Million Settlement Over Lending Discrimination

Wells Fargo has denied claims of lending discrimination and said it's settling "solely for the purpose of avoiding contested litigation with" the Justice Department
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Wells Fargo Bank agreed to pay at least $175 million Thursday to resolve allegations it discriminated against black and Latino home buyers, in what the Justice Department called the second largest settlement over fair lending violations.

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3:56pm

Tue July 10, 2012
Law

Justice Delayed: After Three Decades, An Apology

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 7:34 pm

Kirk Odom and his wife, Harriet, outside the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, the Justice Department said there was "clear and convincing evidence" that Odom is innocent of a 1981 rape and robbery, for which he spent more than two decades behind bars.
Carrie Johnson NPR

Nearly 31 years after he was convicted of rape and armed robbery, Kirk Odom on Tuesday all but won his fight to be declared an innocent man.

The Justice Department filed court papers saying, "There is clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Odom is innocent of the charges for which he was convicted," and apologized for the "terrible injustice."

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3:14pm

Mon July 9, 2012
The Two-Way

Four More Charged In Border Patrol Killing Linked To 'Fast And Furious'

With wanted posters off to the side, James L. Turgal, Jr., right, FBI Special Agent in Charge, listens as Laura E. Duffy, United States Attorney Southern District of California, announces the indictments on five suspects involved in the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry on Monday.
Ross D. Franklin AP

The Justice Department has unsealed criminal charges against four more people it says are connected to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, as the FBI offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of the fugitives.

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3:05am

Mon July 9, 2012
Governing

Justice's New Watchdog Meets Fast And Furious

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 5:28 am

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is reviewing secret emails about the department's Fast and Furious operation.

The legal battle between Republican lawmakers and Attorney General Eric Holder over access to documents in a gun scandal could take months, if not years, to resolve.

But one man has already been sifting through secret emails about the operation known as Fast and Furious. He's Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department's new watchdog.

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2:39pm

Fri July 6, 2012
Law

How The Health Care Ruling Might Affect Civil Rights

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 4:46 pm

People gather outside the Supreme Court on June 28, the morning the health care ruling was announced. Lawyers say they're still teasing out the consequences for other key areas of the law — including civil rights.
David Goldman AP

There's been lots of talk about how the Supreme Court's landmark decision to uphold the health care law could affect the federal Medicaid program and President Obama's political standing. But days after the historic ruling, lawyers say they're still teasing out the consequences for other key areas of the law — including civil rights.

At first blush, it might seem odd that a case about the Affordable Care Act would send civil rights experts scrambling back to their law books.

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5:31pm

Wed June 20, 2012
Politics

House Cites Attorney General Holder For Contempt

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 6:23 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted today to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. He's accused of refusing to turn over certain documents related to the controversial gun-trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious.

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6:55pm

Tue June 19, 2012
U.S.

Senators Get Time In Solitary Confinement

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 6:59 pm

An exercise area for inmates in solitary confinement in California's Pelican Bay prison. Inmates are allowed to leave their windowless cells for 2 1/2 hours daily to exercise and bathe.
Michael Montgomery Center for Investigative Reporting

At any given moment, about 15,000 men and women are living in solitary confinement in the federal prison system, housed in tiny cells not much larger than a king-sized bed.

"It is hard to describe in words what such a small space begins to look like, feel like and smell like when someone is required to live virtually their entire life in it," says Craig Haney, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

But Tuesday, Haney, who has studied life inside prisons for three decades, had an opportunity to paint that picture.

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3:57am

Fri June 15, 2012
Law

Legal Help For The Poor In 'State Of Crisis'

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 10:56 am

At Maryland's Legal Aid Bureau in Baltimore, the doors are open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It serves as a kind of legal emergency room for people who need help but can't afford a lawyer.
Carrie Johnson NPR

Nearly 50 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that people accused of a crime deserve the right to a defense lawyer, no matter whether they can afford to pay for one. But there's no such guarantee when it comes to civil disputes — like evictions and child custody cases — even though they have a huge impact on people's lives.

For decades, federal and state governments have pitched in to help. But money pressures mean the system for funding legal aid programs for the poor is headed toward a crisis.

A Legal ER

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5:06am

Thu June 14, 2012
Law

Michigan Finally Eyeing Changes To Lawyers For Poor

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 12:05 pm

Edward Carter's conviction for a 1974 crime was vacated by a judge after it was shown that Carter was innocent — and after he had spent 35 years in Michigan prisons.
Brakkton Booker NPR

Lawyers on all sides agree the system enshrined nearly 50 years ago that gives all defendants the right to a lawyer is not working. The Justice Department calls it a crisis — such a big problem that it's been doling out grants to improve how its adversaries perform in criminal cases.

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