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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5:06am

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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4:08pm

Wed June 13, 2012
The Two-Way

Justice Department Is Dropping Case Against Edwards

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 4:49 pm

The Justice Department is walking away from its case against John Edwards.

Federal prosecutors have announced they will not retry the former Democratic presidential candidate on campaign finance charges. The decision comes soon after jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Government lawyers asked Judge Catherine Eagles to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning they will not take another bite at the apple and try to resurrect their high profile case.

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5:03am

Tue June 12, 2012
The Two-Way

10,000 People Called Human Trafficking Hotline In 2011

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 10:14 am

A national hotline for human trafficking victims received calls from about 10,000 individuals last year, from every state in the union.

A new report out today by the Polaris Project, which runs the 24-hour hotline through a federal grant, says the volume of calls for help is on the rise, as awareness of the problem grows.

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4:29pm

Fri June 1, 2012
Law

Edwards Verdict: A Case Of Campaign Law Confusion

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 10:29 pm

Former Sen. John Edwards leaves federal court in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday after jurors acquitted him of one felony count and a judge declared a mistrial on five other charges.
Sara D. Davis Getty Images

From the day a grand jury indicted former Sen. John Edwards on six felony charges nearly one year ago, the case drew jeers from election lawyers and government watchdogs.

"It was an incredibly aggressive prosecution because it was based on a novel theory of the law," says Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "There was literally no precedent. No case had ever been like this."

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4:13pm

Thu May 31, 2012
Law

When The Jury Becomes The Story

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 10:58 pm

Former Sen. John Edwards leaves the federal courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., on Tuesday.
Chuck Liddy MCT/Landov

They were called the "giggle gang" — four alternate jurors in the John Edwards trial who wore the same-colored shirt to court on several days.

During nine days of deliberations, much attention was given to the merry band of alternates in the high-profile campaign finance case.

On Thursday, attention swung back to the jury itself, which found Edwards not guilty on one count. The judge declared a mistrial on the other five charges.

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4:36pm

Fri April 27, 2012
Politics

Holder: 'More Work To Do' Before Term Is Over

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 6:05 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder, shown speaking at the 2012 National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation earlier this month, tells NPR he's achieved his highest goal: leading a Justice Department that shaped him as a lawyer and as a person.
David Goldman AP

Attorney General Eric Holder — the first African-American to hold the nation's top law enforcement job — is in the homestretch of his first, and probably last, full term in the post.

And after more than three years on the job, Holder is in an unusually reflective mood. He's thinking about the country's ongoing struggle over civil rights and what he wants to accomplish in his last months of government service.

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3:03am

Wed April 25, 2012
Around the Nation

Holder Vows 'Zero Tolerance' To Human Trafficking

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 8:13 am

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said human trafficking will not be tolerated in the U.S. during a speech at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday.
Danny Johnston AP

Forced labor and underage prostitution are hiding in plain sight in cities all over the U.S. and are no longer problems confined to the developing world, according to Attorney General Eric Holder.

In a major speech on human trafficking Tuesday in Little Rock, Ark., Holder said far too many reports of abuse cross his desk each week, more than 40 percent of them involving children.

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2:57pm

Mon April 23, 2012
The Two-Way

Six Men Ask Judge To Overturn Convictions In Notorious D.C. Murder Case

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 3:39 pm

In 1985, Chris Turner was convicted of the murder of Catherine Fuller. After spending decades in prison, Turner is now out on parole; he maintains his innocence. He is shown here in his childhood neighborhood in Northeast Washington, D.C., about 100 yards away from what was Fuller's home.
Amanda Steen NPR

Six men wearing bright orange prison jumpsuits appeared in a D.C. courtroom today, seeking to overturn their decades-old convictions in a brutal murder by arguing the Justice Department failed to turn over critical evidence that could have helped them assert their innocence.

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7:38am

Mon April 16, 2012
The Two-Way

Prosecutor Who Led Ill-Fated Ted Stevens Case To Leave Justice Department

A federal prosecutor who led the elite public integrity unit when the case against the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens collapsed has told associates he will leave the Justice Department.

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3:20am

Thu April 12, 2012
Law

Does The Case Against John Edwards Go Too Far?

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 10:22 am

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards (left) speaks to the media with attorney Abbe Lowell last October. His trial on alleged campaign finance violations is set to begin Thursday.
Chuck Burton AP

Prospective jurors head to court in North Carolina on Thursday to find out whether they'll be chosen to sit in judgment of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards.

Only four years ago, Edwards was running for the White House as a Democratic candidate. Now, he's a defendant, fighting campaign finance charges that could send him away for as long as 30 years.

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6:04pm

Thu April 5, 2012
The Two-Way

'Enforcer' For Violent Mexican Drug Cartel Faces Life Sentence

The self described enforcer for a violent Juarez, Mexico, drug cartel has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, racketeering and murder charges that could send him away for the rest of his life.

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5:25pm

Thu April 5, 2012
The Two-Way

Former CIA Officer Indicted On Charges Of Sharing Secrets With Reporters

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 6:49 pm

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, leaves federal court in Alexandria, Va., in January.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

A federal grand jury in Virginia has indicted former CIA officer John Kiriakou on charges that he violated the Espionage Act by allegedly sharing secret information about some of his colleagues with reporters.

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11:55am

Fri March 30, 2012
The Two-Way

FBI's Outgoing Cyber Cop Says Americans Don't See Size Of Threat

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 1:17 pm

Outgoing FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

The FBI's top cyber cop retires today after nearly a quarter century in federal law enforcement.

Shawn Henry started looking into computer issues in the run up to Y2K (the arrival of the year 2000). He says that experience left him hungry to learn more about the way electronics were changing the way we live — and the way criminals operate.The movement of so much sensitive information online poses an "existential threat," according to Henry.

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5:10pm

Wed March 28, 2012
It's All Politics

Supreme Court Limits Damage Payments To Whistle-Blowers

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 2:14 pm

Under Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling, whistle-blowers like Linda Tripp (seen here in 1998) have few options in suing the government for damages.
Mark Wilson Reuters/Landov

The Supreme Court has dealt privacy advocates a huge setback. By a 5-3 majority, the court ruled that people who sue the government for invading their privacy can only recover out-of-pocket damages. And whistle-blower lawyers say that leaves victims who suffer emotional trouble and smeared reputations with few if any options.

Justice Samuel Alito and all four of his conservative colleagues turned back a challenge from a pilot named Stan Cooper. (Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the case.)

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4:15pm

Wed March 28, 2012
The Two-Way

Prosecutor Says A Desire To Win Led To Misconduct In Sen. Steven's Case

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 4:26 pm

Special federal prosecutor Henry F. Schuelke testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday.
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

A special prosecutor who spent two years exploring Justice Department misconduct in the botched case against late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said "contest living" — the desire to win a big case — explained the failure to follow the rules in one of the biggest political corruption prosecutions in decades.

"[Lawyers] do not want to have to undermine our case if it can possibly be avoided," investigator Hank Schuelke told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. "That motive to win the case was the principal operative motive."

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