News Release

Chicago Tribune Writers Named "Champions of Justice"

Washington, DC (February 11, 2005) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers will present three investigative reporters for the Chicago Tribune with Champion of Justice Awards for Distinguished Journalism at the association’s Midwinter Meeting at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans on Saturday, February 12. The award recognizes outstanding reporting in print and electronic media advancing public awareness in criminal justice issues.

The Champion of Justice award recognizes the latest joint effort of Steve Mills, Flynn McRoberts and Maruice Possley, “Forensics Under the Microscope,” printed by the Tribune last fall, which explored the limits – and often the failings – of crime labs and technicians around the country. The Tribune itself is specially commended on its continuing dedication to exposing the shortcomings, and often outright misconduct, among law enforcement agencies all over the country.

  • Steve Mills joined the Tribune as a reporter in 1994. Over the past five years, he has written about the death penalty, miscarriages of justice, and other problems in the criminal justice system. In November 1999, he and reporter Ken Armstrong wrote the series “The Failure of the Death Penalty in Illinois,” which helped prompt former Gov. George Ryan to declare a moratorium on executions in Illinois and later to commute the sentences of all of Illinois’ death row inmates. Mills and Armstrong followed up in June 2000 with their series, “State of Execution: The Death Penalty in Texas,” and in December 2000, with fellow award winner Maurice Possley, the investigative series “Executions in America.” He has also co-written series on false confessions and wrongful convictions. Mills is a native of Pasadena, California. He is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He is married with three children.


  • Flynn McRoberts is a projects reporter for the Tribune who has led teams of reporters for the newspaper’s series on the fall of Arthur Andersen, the bankruptcy of United Airlines, and the Bush Administration’s targeting of Muslim men for deportation after the 9/11 attacks. The Andersen series was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting. The deportation series, “Tossed Out of America,” won the 2004 George Polk Award for National Reporting. A Tribune reporter since 1998, he has covered three presidential campaigns, and as an urban affairs reporter chronicled the Chicago Housing Authority’s efforts to transform some of the nation’s most notorious housing projects. Previously, McRoberts was a Chicago correspondent for Newsweek and an intern for the Miami Herald. He graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 1989 with a concentration in political science. He is a native of Idaho.


  • Maurice Possley reports on criminal justice for the Tribune. A reporter since 1972, he joined the Tribune staff in 1984, and has worked since as an investigative reporter covering the state and federal courts and has served as deputy metropolitan editor. He has covered the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber case, and numerous exoneration cases. In the past several years, Possley has been a Pulitzer finalist on two occasions for reporting on failures in the criminal justice system. He also was awarded NACDL’s 1999 Champion of Justice Award, along with Ken Armstrong, for their landmark series on prosecutorial misconduct, “Trial and Error: How Prosecutors Sacrifice Justice to Win.” Possley now joins Pulitzer Prize winner Andrew Schneider as the second two-time recipient of NACDL’s Champion of Justice Award for Distinguished Journalism.

NACDL presents several Champion of Justice Awards a year for extraordinary accomplishments in the fields of law, legislation, civics/humanitarianism and journalism. This is the association’s first presentation of the journalism award since 2001.

Click Here to View the Presentation of Awards 

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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.