Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson covers the Justice Department for NPR.

She has spent the last decade and a half chronicling legal affairs in the nation's capital and beyond. Johnson worked at the Washington Post from 2000 to 2010, when 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.

Johnson's work has won 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. She lives in Washington but always is planning her next exotic trip.

Pages

7:27pm

Thu July 25, 2013
It's All Politics

For Holder, An Intersection Of The Personal And Political

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 7:45 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks Thursday at the National Urban League annual conference in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke AP

Hours before Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would seek new federal powers to protect minority voters in the state of Texas, the country's top law enforcement officer mingled at a Washington event about a topic that hit close to home.

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2:21pm

Fri July 19, 2013
The Two-Way

U.S. Judge 'Troubled' By Government Drone-Strike Policy

A federal judge considering a constitutional challenge to drone strikes that killed three U.S. citizens in Yemen says she's "troubled" by the idea that the courts have no role to play in what's essentially a political dispute.

Over nearly two hours of arguments in her standing-room-only Washington, D.C. courtroom, Judge Rosemary Collyer repeatedly pressed the Obama administration about its claim to a broad right to use lethal force against Americans engaged in conflict overseas, demanding more than once that government lawyers put a "fence" around their position.

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1:56pm

Thu July 18, 2013
The Two-Way

Justice's Rules Mean Reporter Need Not Testify, Lawyer Says

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 8:48 pm

The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency. The case that prosecutors want journalist James Risen to testify in involves an alleged leak of information by a former CIA agent.
Greg E. Mathieson Sr. MAI/Landov

A lawyer for New York Times reporter James Risen is citing new Justice Department guidelines about when to subpoena journalists to support his argument that Risen is covered by a common-law reporter's privilege and need not testify about a former CIA agent who allegedly served as his source.

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4:42am

Wed July 17, 2013
Law

Holder: It's Time To Examine 'Stand Your Ground' Laws

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 5:08 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Attorney General Eric Holder says it is time to take a hard look at so-called Stand Your Ground laws. These are laws that allow people to use deadly force to defend themselves, if they believe they're under attack. Holder delivered that call to action yesterday in a speech to the NAACP in Orlando, Fla., a short distance away from where unarmed, black teen Trayvon Martin was shot and killed last year. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

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11:39am

Wed July 3, 2013
Law

Ex-FISA Court Judge Reflects: After 9/11, 'Bloodcurdling' Briefings

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 4:52 pm

Over 25 years as a federal judge, Royce Lamberth has touched some of the biggest and most contentious issues in the country. He led the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after the Sept. 11 attacks, reviewed petitions from detainees at the Guantanamo prison, and gave a boost to Native Americans suing the federal government.

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3:03am

Fri June 21, 2013
National Security

Obama's Pick To Lead FBI Adds New Layer To Privacy Debate

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 4:34 am

Jim Comey, then deputy attorney general, testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in 2005.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

President Obama will formally nominate Jim Comey to be the country's next FBI director on Friday.

Comey, a registered Republican and longtime federal prosecutor, is best-known for raising alarms inside the Bush White House about a secret electronic surveillance program. That issue has taken on new resonance after disclosures about the Obama administration's dragnet collection of American phone records.

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9:20am

Sat June 15, 2013
The Two-Way

Source: Obama Considering Releasing NSA Court Order

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 4:00 pm

NPR has learned that the Obama administration, under pressure to lift a cloak of secrecy, is considering whether to declassify a court order that gives the National Security Agency the power to gather phone call record information on millions of Americans.

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2:54am

Thu June 6, 2013
Law

Holder On The Hot Seat Over Leak Investigations

Originally published on Thu June 6, 2013 5:52 am

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on May 15 before the House Judiciary Committee.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder has been a lightning rod for the president's fiercest critics during his four years in office. Lately, he's been back on the hot seat with a crisis of his own making: the Justice Department's aggressive stance toward reporters in national security leak cases.

Holder heads to the Senate on Thursday, where lawmakers are sure to demand an explanation.

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6:21pm

Tue June 4, 2013
The Two-Way

Defense: Too Many Documents 'Classifed' In Rosen Leak Case

The lawyer for Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a former State Department contractor charged with leaking top-secret information to Fox News, has accused the intelligence community of impeding his defense by slapping the "classified" label on hundreds of irrelevant and harmless documents.

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3:35am

Mon June 3, 2013
Law

Intent To Harm At Center Of Bradley Manning's Trial

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 10:23 am

Protesters march during a rally in support of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning outside Fort Meade, Md., on Saturday. Manning, who is scheduled to face a court-martial beginning Monday, is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of classified records to WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad.
Patrick Semansky AP

In the three years since his arrest, Bradley Manning, the slight Army private first class with close-cropped blond hair and thick military glasses, has become less of a character than a cause.

"Bradley Manning is a very polarizing figure. People either think that he is a hero or they think he's a traitor," says Elizabeth Goitein, who co-directs the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice. "I actually think that he's somewhere in between."

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6:00pm

Wed May 29, 2013
The Two-Way

Former Justice Official In Line To Be Named FBI Chief

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 6:25 am

Former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey waits to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on May 15, 2007. NPR has learned that Comey is in line to become President Obama's choice as the next FBI director.
Susan Walsh AP

NPR has learned that former Justice Department official James B. Comey is in line to become President Obama's choice as the next FBI director, according to two sources familiar with the search.

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2:56am

Wed May 29, 2013
It's All Politics

Senators Tussle Over Proposal To 'Unpack' Key D.C. Court

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 10:47 am

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has proposed cutting three seats from a key D.C. appeals court.
Cliff Owen AP

More than 75 years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt caused an uproar with his plan to "pack" the Supreme Court with friendly justices. It was an audacious effort to protect his New Deal initiatives.

Now, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has floated the reverse — legislation that would cut three seats from the important D.C. Circuit appeals court, just as President Obama prepares to announce his nominees for those jobs.

The Court-Packing Plan

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12:22pm

Tue May 28, 2013
The Two-Way

Gallup Nears Settlement Deal With DOJ In Overbilling Case

The Gallup Organization has reached "an agreement in principle" with the Justice Department to settle civil allegations that the polling company overbilled the U.S. government by providing inflated estimates for federal contracts, according to a new court filing.

A deal could be announced by mid-June, the court filing says, bringing an end to a costly and embarrassing episode that first came to light when a Gallup insider blew the whistle.

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3:05am

Thu May 23, 2013
Law

Sick Inmates Dying Behind Bars Despite Release Program

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 12:54 pm

Nearly 30 years ago, Congress gave terminally ill inmates and prisoners with extraordinary family circumstances an early way out, known as compassionate release.
iStockphoto.com

Prison is a tough place, but Congress made an exception nearly 30 years ago, giving terminally ill inmates and prisoners with extraordinary family circumstances an early way out. It's called compassionate release.

But a recent investigation found that many federal inmates actually die while their requests drift through the system.

One of them was Clarence Allen Rice.

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7:11pm

Mon May 20, 2013
The Two-Way

Key Charge Against Ex-BP Official In Spill Case Dismissed

David Rainey, a former BP vice president during the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, leaves federal court after being arraigned on obstruction of a federal investigation in New Orleans on Nov. 28, 2012. A federal judge Monday dismissed the charge that Rainey obstructed a congressional investigation into the 2010 spill.
Matthew Hinton AP

It's another bad day for the Justice Department.

A federal judge in Louisiana has thrown out the central criminal charge against a former BP executive because prosecutors failed to prove he knew about a pending congressional investigation into oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico three years ago. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt also ruled that a Democratic House member who inquired about the oil flow rate was acting as head of a subcommittee, not a full congressional committee, as required under the federal Obstruction of Justice statute.

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6:04am

Wed May 15, 2013
Politics

Holder Called To Capitol Hill To Testify On Controversies

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 6:23 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Wednesday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Renee Montagne is in Afghanistan this week. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. When we think about the controversies swirling around Washington this week, there's a common denominator. They fall on the shoulders of Attorney General Eric Holder.

INSKEEP: First, news broke that the Justice Department secretly obtained phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors. This has ignited a First Amendment uproar.

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3:25am

Tue May 14, 2013
Law

Justice Department Secretly Obtains AP Phone Records

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 1:19 pm

The screen on the phone console at the reception desk at The Associated Press Washington bureau.
Jon Elswick AP

The Associated Press is protesting what it calls a massive and unprecedented intrusion into its gathering of news. The target of that wrath is the U.S. Justice Department, which secretly collected phone records for several AP reporters last year. The AP says it's caught in the middle of a Justice Department leak investigation.

The scope of the Justice Department subpoenas is what gives David Schultz, a lawyer for AP, pause.

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7:03am

Wed May 8, 2013
The Two-Way

Head Of Environmental Division Is Leaving Justice Dept.

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 11:38 am

Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno in September of 2011.
Jeff Chiu AP

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Ignacia Moreno, the point person at the Justice Department for prosecuting environmental crimes, says she will leave government service next month.

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6:08am

Wed May 8, 2013
Around the Nation

Specially Trained FBI Agents Will Help Kidnapped Women Heal

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 11:43 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When Charles Ramsey talked with a 911 operator about the woman he'd found, the operator had this question.

(SOUNDBITE OF 911 CALL)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Can you ask her if she needs an ambulance?

CHARLES RAMSEY: You need an ambulance or what? She needs everything. She's in a panic. I bet she's been kidnapped, so you know, put yourself in her shoes.

INSKEEP: Put yourself in her shoes.

NPR's Carrie Johnson reports law enforcement is trying to do just that.

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10:47am

Wed May 1, 2013
The Two-Way

Study: Release Program For Terminal Inmates 'Poorly Managed'

A new watchdog report (PDF) says a Federal Bureau of Prisons program designed to help terminally ill inmates get early release is "poorly managed and implemented inconsistently."

The study by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, which was released Wednesday morning, finds that in 13 percent of cases in which prisoners were approved for the program, inmates died before bureaucrats in Washington made a final decision.

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3:18am

Tue April 30, 2013
It's All Politics

ATF Allies Say Agency Handicapped By Lack Of Director

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:27 pm

ATF agents search last week for evidence at the site of the fire and explosion in West, Texas.
Tom Reel/The San Antonio Express-News AP

It's one of the smallest law enforcement agencies in the federal government, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has sure had a busy couple of weeks.

Dozens of its agents raced to Boston, where they analyzed bombs left near the finish line of the marathon. Others went south to Texas, where a fertilizer plant exploded under mysterious circumstances. Members of the ATF's national response team are still on the scene in tiny West, Texas, sifting through rubble at the blast site, near a crater that's 93 feet wide.

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3:34pm

Tue April 23, 2013
Explosions At Boston Marathon

Boston Search Shines Spotlight On Surveillance Cameras

Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 8:04 pm

An investigator inspects the area near a surveillance camera on the roof of the Lord & Taylor store near the Boston Marathon finish line on Thursday. That camera provided the first glimpse of the men who allegedly planted the bombs.
Julio Cortez AP

Footage from surveillance cameras along the Boston Marathon route gave the FBI early clues about the bombing suspects. And prosecutors say they'll use some of those images to try to prove their criminal case against 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But the proliferation of cameras in America's big cities is raising some tricky questions about the balance between security and privacy.

It was pictures of two brothers taken by a camera outside the Lord & Taylor department store that provided the first glimpse of the men who allegedly bombed the Boston Marathon.

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9:44pm

Sun April 14, 2013
It's All Politics

Labor Nominee's Civil Rights Work Draws Praise, Controversy

Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 1:28 pm

Tom Perez, President Obama's nominee to lead the Labor Department, has been an aggressive advocate for civil rights.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

President Obama's nominee to lead the Labor Department has been one of the most aggressive advocates for civil rights in decades. Tom Perez prosecuted a record number of hate crimes cases and extracted huge settlements from banks that overcharged minorities for home loans.

But some Republican lawmakers say those same qualities give them pause about voting to confirm Perez as a Cabinet member.

'Making A Huge Difference'

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3:22am

Wed April 10, 2013
The Sequester: Cuts And Consequences

Some Public Defenders Warn: 'We Have Nothing Left To Cut'

Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 7:20 am

Steven Nolder joined the federal public defender's office when it opened in Columbus, Ohio, nearly 18 years ago. Nolder handled his share of noteworthy cases, including the first federal death penalty trial in the district and the indictment of a former NFL quarterback embroiled in a ticket fraud scheme.

Lately, Nolder says, his professional world has turned upside down.

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3:20am

Thu April 4, 2013
It's All Politics

The Hunt Is On For A New FBI Director

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 5:11 am

FBI Director Robert Mueller is set to leave office this year. Whomever President Obama chooses to replace him could become a big part of Obama's legacy.
Susan Walsh AP

Robert Mueller became FBI director just days before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, he's been the U.S. government's indispensable man when it comes to national security.

But Mueller's term has expired, and the clock is ticking on an unprecedented extension that Congress gave him two years ago.

The first time the Obama White House thought about a replacement for Mueller, back in 2011, officials threw up their hands and wound up begging him to stay. Congress passed a special law to allow it. Then Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa put his foot down.

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3:25am

Tue April 2, 2013
It's All Politics

Judicial Vacancies Languish On Key Federal Appeals Court

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 7:42 am

President Obama last month withdrew the nomination of Caitlin J. Halligan to the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., after her nomination was blocked by Senate Republicans.
Jim McKnight AP

The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., is sometimes called the second most important court in the country, regularly delivering the final word on major environmental, labor and national security cases.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has a whopping four vacancies, the most in the nation, including one opening that dates all the way back to 2005, when John Roberts moved to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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6:18pm

Wed March 27, 2013
The Two-Way

Obama's Labor Nominee Faces GOP Opposition Over His Role In A Supreme Court Case

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 12:33 pm

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Thomas Perez, the president's nominee to lead the Department of Labor and a high-profile Latino advocate for civil rights, is scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing April 18. But behind-the-scenes wrangling over his nomination, and his controversial role in a Supreme Court case, is already well under way.

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4:56pm

Tue March 26, 2013
Law

California's Proposition 8 Gets Its Day In The Supreme Court

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 5:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Inside the courtroom, the debate over California's gay marriage ban was joined with sharp questions and a splash of humor. But where will all lead is still unknown. As NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, expectations for a sweeping and decisive ruling may be overblown.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Chief Justice John Roberts set the tone in the opening moments. Almost immediately, he pressed the lawyer defending California's gay marriage ban on the most basic of points.

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3:25am

Tue March 26, 2013
Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court

High Court's Decision On Federal Marriage Law Has Tax Implications

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 9:57 am

While equal rights occupy a large part of the debate over same-sex marriage, federal taxes are also a concern for gay couples. Experts say repealing the Defense of Marriage Act will affect some same-sex couples when they file their taxes.
iStockphoto.com

When advocates for gay marriage talk about it, they usually focus on the struggle for equality and civil rights.

But how the Supreme Court decides the Defense of Marriage Act case being argued this week could possibly have big implications in another arena — the money same-sex couples owe the Internal Revenue Service.

The case that could throw out a law that defines marriage as between a man and woman started with a tax bill.

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12:36pm

Mon March 18, 2013
Politics

Justice Department's Tom Perez Tapped For Labor Secretary

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 12:38 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a new labor secretary.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: President Obama has chosen justice department lawyer Thomas Perez for the post. Perez is the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. He ran the labor department in his home state of Maryland and he will add a high profile Latino voice to the cabinet. But, NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, his nomination is not without controversy.

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