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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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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And I'm Audie Cornish. Attorney General Eric Holder was called to testify on Capitol Hill today where Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee skewered Holder. They challenged his ability to oversee a rigorous investigation of national security leaks. They demanded more information about the botched gun operation known as Fast and Furious, and they even called for Holder's resignation. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

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.

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."

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.

A newly released Justice Department study reports nearly 1 in 10 inmates have experienced sexual violence.

The data, based on a 2008 survey of people who served in state prisons, says the abuse disproportionately hits gay and bisexual inmates. And victims who reported the problems often were retaliated against or ignored, the study said.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.)

When community leaders wanted justice for the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, they went knocking on the door of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. And that's been happening a lot lately.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court said police had overstepped their legal authority by planting a GPS tracker on the car of a suspected drug dealer without getting a search warrant. It seemed like another instance in a long line of cases that test the balance between personal privacy and the needs of law enforcement.

We hear a lot about juvenile offenders when they commit a crime — and again, when they're sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison. But not much is known about what happens after the prison gates slam shut.

An extraordinary special investigation by a federal judge has concluded that two Justice Department prosecutors intentionally hid evidence in the case against Sen. Ted Stevens, one of the biggest political corruption cases in recent history.

A blistering report released Thursday found that the government team concealed documents that would have helped the late Stevens, a longtime Republican senator from Alaska, defend himself against false-statements charges in 2008. Stevens lost his Senate seat as the scandal played out, and he died in a plane crash two years later.

Over the past few years, authorities have arrested more than 200 gang members in an unexpected place: the tree-lined suburbs along the Hudson River in New York.

Drug traffickers with ties to the Bloods, the Latin Kings and other gangs have put down roots there. Authorities say they brought shootings and stabbings with them.

Middletown, N.Y., is 90 minutes northwest of the city. On West Main Street, you can find tidy brick buildings from the 1800s, a brew pub, and a restaurant that sells fresh mussels and escargot.

Federal prosecutors have charged five men with responsibility for some of the biggest computer hacks in the past few years. The FBI says the hackers penetrated the computer systems of businesses like Fox Broadcasting and Sony Pictures, stole confidential information and splashed it all over the Internet.

But what's most unusual about the case is how investigators cracked it — with the help of an insider who became a secret government informant.

It's one of the most serious actions the U.S. government could ever take: targeting one of its own citizens with lethal force.

Since last year, U.S. drones have killed three Americans overseas. But Attorney General Eric Holder says the ongoing fight against al-Qaida means those kinds of deadly strikes are now a way of life. And judging from the reaction to his national security speech at Northwestern University Law School on Monday, so is the hot debate over the legality of the U.S. drone program.

Ten years ago, on Oct. 26, 2001, President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act.

Congress overwhelmingly passed the law only weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. It's designed to give the FBI more power to collect information in cases that involve national security.

But in the decade since then, civil liberties groups have raised concerns about whether the Patriot Act goes too far by scooping up too much data and violating people's rights to privacy.

Nicholas Merrill is one of the people sounding an alarm.

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