Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "legal" ...

  • Tailspin

    “Tailspin” uncovered the financial, legal and security problems inside a fast-growing private jet company named JetSmarter. The private jet world gets little scrutiny, protected by a tightknit group of companies and elite customers. JetSmarter became the darling of the media and industry, led by a charismatic CEO and hyped by celebrities on social media. But our investigation found that the company sold memberships that quickly proved to be worthless. Its CEO touted its success as the first “flying unicorn” worth $1.5 billion, but we found JetSmarter was losing millions of dollars a month.
  • Bogus Ballots

    Our investigation uncovered what one legal expert deemed “systematized voter deception” at play during the October 3, 2019 Memphis municipal elections. Within seventeen days, we brought to light a half-million dollar citywide disinformation campaign, in which more than a dozen campaigns, including the mayor’s, were involved in a pay-to-play scheme that put Republicans and Democrats alike on a widely distributed flyer posing as the local Democratic Party’s list of endorsements.
  • University of Utah Student Killed; Who Is Murder Suspect Ayoola Ajayi?

    Twelve days after the disappearance of University of Utah student, Mackenzie Lueck this summer, and following an exhaustive investigation by law enforcement, police arrested and formally charged the suspect in her death, Ayoola Adisa Ajayi. Ajayi faces four charges in connection to Lueck’s violent murder, including aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping. KSL Investigators knew Ajayi was the person of interest in this case because he owned the small property in Salt Lake where multiple search warrants were executed in the case prior to his arrest. Before authorities released his name to the public, KSL Investigators worked to learn everything they could about the 31-year-old immigrant, originally from Africa, so we could break the investigation as soon as the suspect’s name was released. Although much of a person’s immigration status is private information, representatives with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Ajayi is a lawful legal resident and he was at the time of his arrest. However, the KSL Investigators exposed how he came to this country and revealed possible oversight by Utah State University and the federal government when he dropped out of school a number of times and was posting online about seeking to find a wife to keep his citizenship status.
  • Inside Texas' botched voter-rolls review

    The press release landed late on a Friday afternoon: State officials had found 95,000 “noncitizens” on the Texas voter rolls — and 58,000 of those people had voted. The reaction from GOP state leaders, who have long pushed unsubstantiated claims of rampant voter fraud in Texas, was swift and certain. “VOTER FRAUD ALERT,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted. “Thanks to Attorney General Paxton and the Secretary of State for uncovering and investigating this illegal vote registration,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted, adding, “I support prosecution where appropriate.” Even President Donald Trump chimed in. “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.” The state’s claims immediately raised red flags for our voting rights reporter, Alexa Ura. Ura knew the state had used driver’s license records — where applicants must reveal their citizenship status — to cross-reference the voter rolls and flag potential illegitimate voters. She also knew that in Texas, immigrants only have to renew their driver’s license every few years — meaning many thousands of people flagged by the state’s review had almost certainly become naturalized citizens before they registered and voted. Her breaking news story on state leaders’ “voter fraud” announcement explained those flawed methods and cast serious doubts on their claims. But her follow-up reporting — dozens of explanatory and investigative stories over as many weeks — had far greater impact than merely debunking irresponsible claims.
  • #UkraineDocs

    Our principal three stories — written by Smith and published on Dec. 13, Dec. 20, and Jan. 2 — revealed first that the Trump administration was hiding critical information about the potential legality of the President’s holdup of Ukraine aid, second that officials at the Pentagon were worried that the holdup violated a spending law, and third that the holdup ignited increasingly strident protests by Pentagon officials who said it was illegal and that it should have been disclosed to Congress.
  • Easy Targets

    There are some sixty-three thousand licensed gun dealers in the U.S.—nearly twice the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks combined. But, unlike other businesses that deal in dangerous products, such as pharmacies or explosives makers, most gun stores face no legal requirements to secure their merchandise. As a result, there has been a sharp increase in gun-store thefts. This story focuses on a group of thieves who preyed on gun stores in North Carolina, stealing more than two hundred weapons over a four-month period. The Trace and The New Yorker relied on thousands of public records and more than fifty interviews to track these guns through a network of black-market profiteers.
  • An Innocent Man?

    Newsday’s multi-media investigation “An Innocent Man?” was the first to reveal widespread wrongdoing by Suffolk law-enforcement authorities in the 1975 Keith Bush murder conviction, one of the longest-running “innocent man” cases in U.S. history. In a year-long investigation, Newsday reporter Thomas Maier detailed: how police allegedly beat a false confession out of then-17-year-old Bush for the 1975 sex-related murder of schoolmate Sherese Watson; how forensic experts offered flawed evidence about Bush’s guilt and later lost the alleged murder weapon; how the prosecution’s main witness against Bush later recanted and said she made up all of her testimony; how DNA evidence pointing to Bush’s innocence was rejected; and, mostly significantly, how Bush’s trial prosecutor covered-up evidence of another potential suspect, John W. Jones Jr., who placed himself at the murder scene. That evidence about Jones remained a secret and Bush was convicted and sent to prison for 33 years. Newsday’s investigation began in June 2018 and the resulting 15,000-word print report and an accompanying documentary were published together in May 2019. Shortly afterward, a report by the current Suffolk County district attorney concluded that Bush had been wrongly convicted and a judge vacated his sentence – 44 years later. Several follow-ups by Newsday detailed reaction to the Bush case and were reflected in an updated documentary, written by Maier and edited by Newsday owner Patrick Dolan, which was posted on December 31, 2019. Maier’s painstaking work – which involved dozens of interviews and thousands of pages of legal documents – shed light on a tragic incident in the past and helped result in other similar cases receiving a thorough investigation.
  • Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn't

    The book revisits the murder conviction of Jo Ann Parks, sentenced to life in prison without parole for allegedly murdering her three young children in 1989by setting fire to her home and trapping them inside. In re-investigating the case, the author found flawed forensic science, false and contradictory testimony, and strong evidence of cognitive bias throughout the case, including use of an unreliable informant who later recanted, and sworn expert testimony that the fire began because Parks supposedly constructed a crude “incendiary device” by deliberately overloading a sabotaged electrical extension cord. Testing later proved the cord did not and could not start a fire. Information in the book has since been added to Parks’ existing habeas corpus petition filed by the California Innocence Project, now being considered by the state Supreme Court. Additional findings suggests the problems with flawed forensic science and cognitive bias in general, and in arson investigation in particular, is widespread and has led to other wrongful convictions. Correcting the use of flawed forensic and expert testimony is hindered by the legal system’s reliance on precedent, which slows and sometimes prevents the correction of scientifically dubious ideas used to win convictions. Nascent attempts to study and change this tendency to prolong the use of flawed forensic science initiated by the Obama Administration have been shut down by the Trump Administration.
  • Reuters: Immigration under Trump

    Over the last two years, the Trump administration has driven rapid and unprecedented change to the United States immigration system, implementing tougher apprehension, prosecution and detention policies for migrants who come to the country illegally. Reuters has stayed ahead of policy changes, often breaking exclusive news before official announcements. We have also used data to expose where administration policies have failed and to highlight inequities in the system. In these stories, we have relied heavily on a Department of Justice database known as the Case Management System. Reuters obtains the data set, which is used by the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to schedule all court appearances, through monthly Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • To fulfill Trump’s vision on immigration, sheriffs are trampling over constitutional principles

    “To fulfill Trump’s vision on immigration, sheriffs are trampling over constitutional principles,” by Yvette Cabrera and published in ThinkProgress, examines the practice by sheriff’s departments across the country who are holding people in jail past their release date at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] using a technique that legal experts say raises serious questions about potential constitutional rights violations.