Nina Totenberg

Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.

Totenberg's coverage of the Supreme Court and legal affairs has won her widespread recognition. Newsweek says, "The mainstays [of NPR] are Morning Edition and All Things Considered. But the creme de la creme is Nina Totenberg." She is also a regular panelist on Inside Washington, a weekly syndicated public affairs television program produced in the nation's capital.

In 1991, her ground-breaking report about University of Oklahoma Law Professor Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment by Judge Clarence Thomas led the Senate Judiciary Committee to re-open Thomas's Supreme Court confirmation hearings to consider Hill's charges. NPR received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for its gavel-to-gavel coverage — anchored by Totenberg — of both the original hearings and the inquiry into Anita Hill's allegations, and for Totenberg's reports and exclusive interview with Hill.

That same coverage earned Totenberg additional awards, among them: the Long Island University George Polk Award for excellence in journalism; the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting; the Carr Van Anda Award from the Scripps School of Journalism; and the prestigious Joan S. Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based national affairs/public policy reporting, which also acknowledged her coverage of Justice Thurgood Marshall's retirement.

Totenberg was named Broadcaster of the Year and honored with the 1998 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcasting from the National Press Foundation. She is the first radio journalist to receive the award. She is also the recipient of the American Judicature Society's first-ever award honoring a career body of work in the field of journalism and the law. In 1988, Totenberg won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for her coverage of Supreme Court nominations. The jurors of the award stated, "Ms. Totenberg broke the story of Judge (Douglas) Ginsburg's use of marijuana, raising issues of changing social values and credibility with careful perspective under deadline pressure."

Totenberg has been honored seven times by the American Bar Association for continued excellence in legal reporting and has received a number of honorary degrees. On a lighter note, in 1992 and 1988 Esquire magazine named her one of the "Women We Love".

A frequent contributor to major newspapers and periodicals, she has published articles in The New York Times Magazine, The Harvard Law Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Parade Magazine, New York Magazine, and others.

Before joining NPR in 1975, Totenberg served as Washington editor of New Times Magazine, and before that she was the legal affairs correspondent for the National Observer.

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Politics
4:29 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Newly Released Testimony Is Vintage Nixon

President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office on Feb. 19, 1970.
National Archives Getty Images

The National Archives has released President Nixon's long-secret grand jury testimony in the Watergate scandal. Nixon gave the testimony, spanning 298 pages, in 1975 after he had been named an unindicted co-conspirator, resigned and been pardoned for criminal abuses of government power.

From the get-go, the testimony is vintage Nixon — manipulative, self-pitying, and as unrevealing as possible.

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Law
2:14 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Justices Weigh Technology And Privacy In GPS Case

The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case about whether GPS monitoring devices like this one may be affixed to suspects' cars without a warrant from a judge.
Yasir Afifi AP

Justices grappled Tuesday with a question that pits the use of modern technology in law enforcement against individual privacy interests. At issue is a case testing whether police must obtain a warrant before putting a GPS tracking device on a car to monitor a suspect's movements.

Law
11:01 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Do Police Need Warrants For GPS Tracking Devices?

The Supreme Court considers whether GPS monitoring devices like this one may be affixed to suspects' cars without a warrant from a judge.
Yasir Afifi AP

Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 10:52 am

The U.S. Supreme Court, an institution steeped in tradition, steps into the turbulent world of new technology Tuesday. At issue before the court is whether police must get a warrant from a judge before they can attach a GPS tracking device to a car so they can monitor a suspect's every movement for an indefinite period of time.

The case could have enormous implications for privacy rights in the information age.

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Law
2:23 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Can Passports List 'Jerusalem, Israel' As Birthplace?

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday in a case that combines the Middle East conflict with the dueling foreign policy roles of Congress and the president. Specifically, the question was whether Congress can force the executive branch to list Israel as the birthplace for United States citizens born in Jerusalem.

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Law
11:01 pm
Sun November 6, 2011

Court Weighs President's Power To Recognize Nations

The Supreme Court will consider the question of whether U.S. citizens may list "Jerusalem, Israel" as their birthplace on passports.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

The United States Supreme Court steps into a test of the president's foreign policy powers on Monday. It is a test that combines the Middle East conflict with the dueling roles of Congress and the executive branch, plus an added dash of interest over presidential signing statements. At issue in the case is whether Congress can force the executive branch to list Israel as the birthplace for United States citizens born in Jerusalem.

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Law
4:19 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Supreme Court To Weigh Case Of False Testimony

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that sounds more like a John Grisham novel than a Supreme Court case.

The issue is whether police investigators have total immunity from being sued for giving false testimony before a grand jury. The case has all the elements of a spooky saga, involving power, influence and money — all used to silence the critics of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, the largest hospital in Albany, Ga.

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The Two-Way
4:40 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Supreme Court Reinstates Conviction Of Grandmother In Shaken Baby Case

Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 6:05 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again rebuked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in California. This time, the court, by a 6-to-3 vote, reinstated the conviction of a California grandmother for shaking her baby grandson to death. The court's unsigned opinion, provoked a strong dissent from three of the justices, who accused the court majority of using a "tragic case" to "teach the Ninth Circut a lesson."

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Law
4:31 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Supreme Court Hears Plea Bargain Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in two cases testing whether a lawyer's mishandling of a plea bargain offer should be sufficient reason for a defendant to get a second chance to accept the offer.

Both cases involve defendants who got prison terms much longer than they would have under plea bargains offered by the prosecutor. In one case, the defendant's lawyer never told his client about the offer. In the other, the defense lawyer advised against taking the offer based on a clearly erroneous understanding of state law.

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The Two-Way
4:27 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

High Court Lets Stand Ruling Ordering Removal Of Crosses In Utah

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 7:40 am

The United States Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling that ordered the removal of 12-foot high crosses placed along highways in Utah to commemorate state troopers killed in the line of duty.

The court acted without comment, but Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a 19-page dissent.

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Law
4:29 am
Mon October 31, 2011

High Court Considers When Bad Lawyers Taint A Case

The Supreme Court hears two cases about ineffective lawyers on Monday.

J. Scott Applewhite AP

On television, most criminal cases are tried before a jury. But in reality, more than 90 percent of all criminal cases in the United States never get to trial; they are resolved with a plea bargain. For the state, these bargains save money and resources, and they often include agreements that the defendant will help prosecutors make other cases. But plea bargains have also been criticized as a boon for real criminals who have information to bargain with, while little guys, with nothing to trade, can get mauled by the system.

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