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 "trial" ...

  • Broken Justice in Phillips County

    A five-part series preceded by an initial investigation into dysfunction in the criminal justice system in an Arkansas Delta county known for corruption and poverty. The year-long investigation uncovered errors and archaic practices in the handling of fugitive warrants and speedy trials that allowed felony suspects to remain free for years without fear of answering to the charges against them. As a result, prosecutors had to drop hundreds of cases for failure to take them to trial in a timely manner. Since publication, the Phillips County sheriff has made changes in how his office handles failure-to-appear warrants, and court officials have reduced case backlogs. Nevertheless, problems persist.
  • C-HIT: Toxic Laundry Emissions

    Industrial laundries in New England have recently come under intense scrutiny by the EPA, ever since the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) found that volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) were being released at a facility in Waterbury, CT. According to Steve Rapp, Chief of the Air Technical Unit, EPA Region 1, the problem is widespread and significant. “The industrial laundries are grossly under-reporting their VOCs,” said Rapp. “It’s a total sleeper.” The problem stems from the process of laundering shop towels, which are often contaminated with toxic solvents. When improperly cleaned, the solvents are vaporized and emitted to the surrounding air. This article investigated this little-known source of air pollution, shedding light on the industry’s practices and its impact on air quality and public health.
  • Behind Closed Doors, Kentucky City Buys Controversial Building For $1.3 Million

    Danville, Kentucky’s purchase of the former Boyle County Industrial Storage Facility, better known as the BISCO building, drew a lot of controversy along with legal battles during the second half of 2012. During its Aug. 13 meeting, Danville City Commission unanimously voted to buy the building at auction for $1,237,550. However, a bidder hired by the city had already won the property in auction three days before. Also, on the day of the auction city officials had cut a check for 10 percent of the BISCO building’s purchase price. Residents raised concerns about the secretive nature of the purchase, especially since then-Commissioner Ryan Montgomery’s father, Mike, had a long-standing business relationship with the building’s former owner Mitchell Barnes. After being publicly prodded, Mayor Bernie Hunstad also acknowledged that his wife, Susan, worked for the bidder the city hired to handle the auction process.
  • Scapegoat: The Chino Hills Murders and the Framing of Kevin Cooper

    Scapegoat is the true story of the horrific Chino Hills murders -- the highest profile crime in San Bernardino County history. It shows how law enforcement ignored eyewitness information implicating three white men as the perpetrators in order to pin the crime on Kevin Cooper, a recently escaped black prisoner from the nearby prison in Chino, California. It shows how his public defender lost the case before the trial even began and how the justice system has failed Cooper at almost every turn. It also shows the heroic work of an international law firm headquartered in San Francisco that adopted Cooper's case pro bono just three months before his scheduled execution in 2004 and won him a stay and how lawyers from this firm continue to appeal his wrongful conviction.
  • Grandma can’t accept your call: Inmates disconnected by phone costs

    This series of stories started with a simple question. Why does it cost so much for inmates to make calls from the Cook County Jail? In the course of my reporting on criminal and legal affairs for WBEZ, the public radio station in Chicago, I had heard numerous people complain about the high cost of phone calls. Some digging confirmed that the price could be as high as $15.00 for 15 minute calls. Three or four calls a week at that price gets expensive even for financially stable middle class folks, but the people paying these fees were mostly the poorest residents in Chicago. That’s because most of the people in the Cook County Jail are there because they and their families couldn’t afford to post bond of a couple thousand, or sometimes even just hundreds of dollars to secure their freedom while awaiting trial. They are the people who are least able to afford such expensive phone calls. A few FOIA requests revealed the scheme (and scheme is the right word… I just looked it up: a crafty or secret plan of action). Cook County gave an exclusive phone contract to a company called Securus Technologies. Securus charged inflated phone rates and their exclusive deal in the jail meant inmates wanting to talk to their families or arrange their defense had no choice but to pay the rates. Securus then paid back to the county 57½ percent of the revenue from the calls. It netted the county about $4 million a year. Securus wouldn’t tell us their take but I imagine they did alright too. All of the money was coming out of the pockets of the poorest residents in Cook County, people who couldn’t even afford to post bond for their freedom. (As an aside, this isn’t just an issue in Cook County. According to its website Securus provides the phone systems for 850,000 inmates in 2,200 jails and prisons across the country.) Our reporting shed public light on a hugely profitable contract that no one was paying attention to. We documented the lives of the impoverished people getting hammered by the policy and then turned the hammer on the local elected officials to ask them to explain how this was a good policy. The public officials responded in a way that once again proved the genius of democracy. Our efforts and the results are detailed in subsequent answers below.
  • Fugitives from Justice

    Growing numbers of criminal suspects flee the U.S. each year to evade trial for murder, rape and other serious felonies. The investigation penetrated the government secrecy that shrouds America's interntaional fugitive extradition programs, giving a voice to forgotten victims.
  • Unreasonable Doubt

    The Globe's team found that when accused drunk drivers waive their right to a jury trial and take their cases before a single judge, they are acquitted four out of five times- an astonishing statewide acquittal rate of 82 percent that is virtually unmatched in the United States. The Globe found that the acquittal rate by judges is 30 percentage points higher than the acquittal rate by juries.
  • Failed Justice: Investigations in Minnesota

    An MPR News investigation of an obscure murder case in rural Minnesota revealed shoddy work and incorrect testimony by the state's most prominent medical examiner, who has testified at more than 100 murder trials over the past three decades.
  • Baumgartner

    At the start of 2011, the best known and probably most respected judge in Knoxville, Tenn., was Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner, founder of Knox County's successful Drug Court and the judge who recently had presided over trials involving the most shocking crime in local memory, the carjacking, torture and murder of a young couple named Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. The trials of four suspects led to a death sentence, two life sentences and one very long prison term. But soon after the new year began, Baumgartner took an abrupt leave of absence, ostensible for health reasons.
  • Army slow to act as crime-lab worker falsified, botched tests

    The reporters undertook a year-long inquiry into every facet of the often-opaque military justice system. Through more than two dozen stories, the series closely examined military criminal investigations, lab testing, trials, sentences and appeals.