The Michael Kelly Award

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Mandy Locke & Joseph Neff

CITATIONMandy Locke, Joseph Neff
In their four-part series, “Agents’ Secrets,” Mandy Locke and Joseph Neff exposed widespread misconduct at the State Bureau of Investigation in North Carolina. Agents fabricated stories or cut corners to prove prosecutors’ theories. Lab examiners flouted accepted scientific techniques and withheld evidence to help build cases for prosecutors. As a result of the series, top officials at the bureau have been fired or replaced and the SBI is rewriting its policies and procedures. The series was an example of the News & Observer‘s exemplary criminal-justice reporting over the past several years – reporting that helped free a death row inmate and trigger the establishment of the nation’s first Innocence Inquiry Commission.

Mandy Locke, 32, was born and reared in Shelbyville, Tenn., where she started her journalism career as a high school student covering the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. After graduating from the University of Virginia, she worked at the Vineyard Gazette in Edgartown, Mass. before joining the News & Observer in 2004 to report on the criminal justice system. She has also won numerous North Carolina Press Association awards for breaking news and investigations.

Joseph Neff, 51, is an investigative reporter at the News & Observer of Raleigh. His stories have led to the exoneration of an innocent man on death row; disciplinary proceedings against cheating prosecutors; the convictions of former Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps and seven of her colleagues; and the disciplining of bad doctors. His work has been recognized by Society of Professional Journalists, among other organizations. A native of Cleveland, Joseph was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, where he taught beekeeping.

Agents’ Secrets



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