Reporting: Longform, profiles and an eyewitness account

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The Killing Routine

One of the most difficult reporting assignments of my career has been witnessing an execution. Stephen Wayne Anderson was the tenth California inmate put to death at San Quentin in one ten-year span. Only three executions have been carried out in the 16 years since, the last one in 2006. There are 746 inmates on California's death row, more than one quarter of the total across all states.

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It's Not Easy Being Green

Cities, in particular L.A., have long recognized the urgency of the problems of smog and rising temperatures, and have tried to address them through vehicle-emisson standards, industrial regulations and other forms of legislation. But they've ignored one of the biggest potential solutions. According to a study by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, an additional 10 million trees in L.A. could cool city temperatures by five degrees. Trees also filter noxious exhaust, and they can reduce particulates (the deadliest form of air pollution) by as much as 75 percent. 

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The Love Court - LA Times

At the Compton Courthouse, the public defenders love the juries, the prosecutors love the challenge, and at least one judge calls it 'the greatest place in the world. A close camaraderie and sense of common purpose have flourished. It has become an assignment of choice among judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys alike. 

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The Counselor - Mother Jones

One advocate's efforts to combat domestic violence—by setting up shop inside the historically indifferent Los Angeles Police Department in an affluent part of town. She confronted the station’s disregard the day she reported to work and was shown to her office—a former holding cell, complete with iron bars and a concrete floor. A detective told her dismissively that “rich men don’t beat their wives.” 

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Last Rights - LA Weekly

In California, weeks before an execution, the competency of a condemned inmate is reviewed. If the warden questions an inmate’s mental capacity, a sanity trial is conducted. That has happened only twice in California, one in the case of Horace Kelly. I covered the trial, in which a Marin County jury found Kelly “aware” of his sentence and the reason for it and voted for execution. But a stay by a federal judge stalled the execution, and Kelly’s lawyers have since raised new grounds for appeal.

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The Importance of Being Ernie - Mother Jones

Ernie Chambers is the longest-serving state senator in the history of Nebraska, and the only African-American to have run for governor and the US Senate in Nebraska's history. He’s been described as “left of San Francisco” in a state that for decades has been tightly tucked under the blanket of conservative Republicanism. “This is Nebraska,” he says. “It’s a terrible place to be. It is an ultraconservative, ultra-racist state. I would not advise anybody black to come here.”

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Losing Dorothy: If You're Black and Poor, Silence Can Still Equal Death

For this piece I spent many hours over the course of several months at an AIDS hospice with Dorothy Travis, hearing about her life and also simply sitting, watching Judge Judy and letting the time go by. We published the piece 20 years after the first known cases of AIDS were positively identified. By 1993, blacks, who represented about 12 percent of the U.S. population, made up an estimated one-third of AIDS deaths. Six years later, half of all people who died of AIDS in America were black. That means that in 1999 more than 8,000 African-Americans died of AIDS, more than of emphysema, or of gunshot wounds. Today, rates of HIV infection among African Americans remain inordinately high. 

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Towers of Power - LA Times

Watts Towers, Simon Rodia's 34-year voyage of sculptural whimsy around his tenth-of-an-acre backyard, is said to be the largest structure ever made by one man alone—a vertical triumph in a horizontal town. The line between the streets and the towers is often a tenuous one. John Outterbridge, who was director of the arts center for nearly 17 years, says he urged kids on their way to school to deposit their guns at the towers. Yet in bearing the weight of a community in need, the towers as a work of art all but disappeared

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For this project, funded in part by the Open Society Institute, I partnered with reporter Giao Pham at the Vietnamese newspaper Nguoi Viet to chronicle the ongoing effect of the storm on Vietnamese communities in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. The image here is of My Huynh, an 88-year-old New Orleans resident displaced by the storm whose application for emergency housing was rejected by FEMA. Also pictured is her son, who alerted me to her circumstances. After my piece ran she was granted a wheelchair-accessible trailer. 

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Saving Ricky Tovar- LA Weekly

This story recounts the saga of a 17-year-old Latino boy who was mistakenly arrested and then kept in juvenile detention—even after police knew he wasn't the perpetrator. Thanks to the relentless efforts of his family and teachers he was eventually released, but only after missing crucial weeks and months of school, and being subjected to the cruelties of the criminal justice system.  

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Death Row Conversion - Mother Jones

Traditional opponents of capital punishment have gained powerful and unlikely allies: American Catholics, many of them conservatives defending a "culture of life." In this instance, a North Carolina congregation is forced to confront its views after a parishoner is sentenced to death. “We said, ‘This is one of our own, a good person who has done a horrendous thing,’ ” the pastor told me. “ ‘We need to stand by our family.’ ”