Bonner, Raymond. The Anatomy of an Injustice.
Bonner, a lawyer and former reporter for The New York Times, uses the case of Eddie Lee Elmore, a mentally retarded man, who was prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to death in South Carolina for a murder he probably did not commit. Bonner follows Elmore’s case through the court system, using it to illustrate how the system works and how it can misfunction. Elmore was eventually released after a federal appeals court found misconduct by the prosecutors and ordered a new trial.
Buchanan, Edna. The Corpse Had a Familiar Face.
Buchanan won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting for the Miami Herald. This book blends her story of how she became one of the premier police reporters in the United States with some of the fascinating cases she covered.
Burns, Sarah. The Central Park Five.
The brutal rape and beating of a young woman who was jogging in New York’s Central Park shocked the nation. Five youths were arrested and charged with the crime. All of them confessed, and all recanted their confessions. The public and news media assumed, however, that the youths were guilty. Eventually, DNA evidence proved another man had committed the crime, and he confessed to having acted alone. The Central Park Five, all of whom spent years in prison, were eventually exonerated.
Connolly, Michael. Crime Beat: A Decade of Covering Cops and Killers.
Connolly is best known as a crime novelist, but before he turned to writing fiction, he covered cops and crime for news organizations in Florida and Los Angeles. Crime Beat is a nonfiction retelling of some of the most interesting cases he covered as a reporter, many of which became inspiration for his novels.
Houston, Brant. The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook.
Published by the Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., this is a valuable reference tool for any one reporting on public affairs. The book includes chapters on covering federal, state and local governments, schools, courts and private businesses. It also explains how to investigate specific topics, such as finance, the environment and transportation. Each chapter includes information on key documents and sources and how to find them.
Locy, Toni. Covering America’s Courts: A Clash of Rights.
Locy, who teaches legal reporting at Washington and Lee University, covered courts for The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, USA Today and the Associated Press. Her book explains the legal process and how to cover it, including how to develop people as sources and how to find and use court documents.
Simon, David. Homicide.
As a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, Simon spent a year with a homicide unit of the Baltimore police. He had unlimited access to the officers and their work. This book describes that year and the cases the officers worked. It is a richly detailed look at how police officers investigate crimes and how they feel about their work.
Taylor, Stuart Jr., and K.C. Johnson. Until Proven Innocent.
Allegations of gang rape against members of the Duke University lacrosse team provoked a storm of media coverage, much of which assumed the young athletes guilty. But eventually the case fell apart. Taylor and Johnson follow the case and the media coverage of the event, showing how journalists jumped to wrong conclusions about the victims, the evidence and the defendants.