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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2:39pm

Tue July 10, 2012
Law

Justice Delayed: After Three Decades, An Apology

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 6:34 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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2:09pm

Mon July 9, 2012
The Two-Way

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

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 2:14 pm

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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2:05am

Mon July 9, 2012
Governing

Justice's New Watchdog Meets Fast And Furious

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 4:28 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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1:39pm

Fri July 6, 2012
Law

How The Health Care Ruling Might Affect Civil Rights

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 3:46 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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5:09am

Fri June 29, 2012
Politics

House To Persue Criminal Action Against Holder

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 7:32 am

For the first time, the U.S. House of Representatives has declared a sitting attorney general in contempt of Congress. In a pair of votes cast largely along party lines, the House moved to pursue criminal sanctions against Eric Holder and to take steps to sue him in federal court. They blame Holder for not turning over documents about the Fast and Furious gun scandal.

5:23pm

Wed June 20, 2012
Politics

House Cites Attorney General Holder For Contempt

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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5:59pm

Tue June 19, 2012
U.S.

Senators Get Time In Solitary Confinement

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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5:31pm

Tue June 19, 2012
Law

Senate Holds First Hearing On Solitary Confinement

Advocates for prisoners rights say too many inmates spend years in solitary confinement — in violation of the constitutional bar against cruel and unusual punishment. Today, they persuaded the U.S. Senate to hold the first hearing on the issue, as state and federal prison systems fend off new lawsuits over the practice.

2:57am

Fri June 15, 2012
Law

Legal Help For The Poor In 'State Of Crisis'

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 9:56 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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4:40am

Thu June 14, 2012
Law

Michigan Finally Eyeing Changes To Lawyers For Poor

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 11:05 am

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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3:08pm

Wed June 13, 2012
The Two-Way

Justice Department Is Dropping Case Against Edwards

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 3:49 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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4:03am

Tue June 12, 2012
The Two-Way

10,000 People Called Human Trafficking Hotline In 2011

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 9:14 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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3:25pm

Fri June 1, 2012
Law

Edwards Verdict: A Case Of Campaign Law Confusion

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 9:29 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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3:40pm

Thu May 31, 2012
Law

When The Jury Becomes The Story

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 9:58 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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6:53am

Wed May 2, 2012
Law

DOJ Downplays Expectation For Hate Crimes Law

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Wednesday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Nearly three years ago, Congress passed a federal hate crime law. It makes it illegal to target victims because of their race, religion or sexual orientation. The law drew protests from some Republican lawmakers and religious groups, who said it threatened their free speech rights. And the law has been used sparingly.

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