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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National Security
4:34 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

House Questions Terrorism Detection Tools After Boston Attack

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 8:48 pm

The House Homeland Security Committee held its first hearing on the Boston Marathon bombing and aftermath on Thursday. Witnesses included the Boston police commissioner and former Sen. Joe Lieberman. Panel Chairman Mike McCaul has been highlighting intelligence failures.

The Two-Way
7:03 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Head Of Environmental Division Is Leaving Justice Dept.

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

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

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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Around the Nation
6:08 am
Wed May 8, 2013

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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The Two-Way
10:47 am
Wed May 1, 2013

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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It's All Politics
3:18 am
Tue April 30, 2013

ATF Allies Say Agency Handicapped By Lack Of Director

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

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

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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Politics
6:03 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Lawmakers Want To Avoid Drone Strike Abuses

Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 7:20 am

A Senate committee has held the fist public hearing on the use of drones. Lawmakers say they want to establish some ground rules for deadly drone strikes to prevent abuses.

Explosions At Boston Marathon
3:31 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Boston Search Shines Spotlight On Surveillance Cameras

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

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

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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It's All Politics
9:44 pm
Sun April 14, 2013

Labor Nominee's Civil Rights Work Draws Praise, Controversy

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

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

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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Law
5:15 am
Thu April 11, 2013

D.C. Circuit Court Operates With Four Vacancies

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 10:59 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. is second only to the United States Supreme Court in terms of the important cases it decides. But the court, known as the D.C. Circuit, has been limping along with four vacancies. President Obama's first nominee recently withdrew after two Senate filibusters blocked her path. The White House is hoping its other nominee will have an easier ride.

Here's NPR's Carrie Johnson.

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The Sequester: Cuts And Consequences
3:22 am
Wed April 10, 2013

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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It's All Politics
5:11 am
Thu April 4, 2013

The Hunt Is On For A New FBI Director

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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It's All Politics
3:25 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Judicial Vacancies Languish On Key Federal Appeals Court

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

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

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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The Two-Way
6:18 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

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

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

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

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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Law
4:30 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Supreme Court Wrestles With Implications Of Defense Of Marriage Act

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

In a second day of historic arguments on gay marriage, the Supreme Court wrestled with DOMA today. The Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal law and it affects the administration of more than 1,000 federal programs, everything from Social Security and family leave to the estate tax.

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Law
4:56 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

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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Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court
3:25 am
Tue March 26, 2013

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

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

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

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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Politics
4:43 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Obama's Labor Secretary Pick Could Hit Snags Over Immigration Work

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 5:54 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In the east room of the White House today, union leaders sat side by side with civil rights luminaries as President Obama announced his choice for secretary of Labor. The nominee, Justice Department lawyer Thomas Perez, has a back-story the president finds irresistible.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Like so many Americans, Tom knows what it's like to climb the ladder of opportunity. He's the son of Dominican immigrants. He helped pay his way through college as a garbage collector and working at a warehouse.

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Politics
12:38 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Justice Department's Tom Perez Tapped For Labor Secretary

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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The Two-Way
12:27 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Court Says CIA Can't Have It Both Ways On Drones

Don't deny you have documents about drones, court tells the CIA.
Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 2:56 pm

A federal appeals court has rejected an effort by the CIA to deny it has any documents about a U.S. drone program that has killed terrorists overseas, ruling that the agency is stretching the law too far and asking judges "to give their imprimatur to a fiction of deniability that no reasonable person would regard as plausible."

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Law
5:12 am
Fri March 15, 2013

50 Years After Key Case, Problems Defending The Poor Persist

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 6:50 am

Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in which the justices unanimously ruled that defendants facing substantial jail time deserved legal representation in state courts, even if they couldn't afford to pay for it.

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