“Maurice Possley is one of the best investigative journalists in the nation, and one of the most thorough reporters I have ever met and known… Among Possley’s many other contributions to journalism, and to the law, is his dogged attention to the specifics of this larger story; his ability to take from the trend a single story that illustrates more than raw numbers just how prevalent the problem may be.”
— Andrew Cohen, chief legal editor and analyst, CBS News
Maurice Possley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who has written about, investigated and consulted on issues involving criminal justice in the United States and abroad for more than 30 years.
A 1972 graduate of Loyola University in Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications, Maurice’s baptism into journalism — and the world of crime, courts and justice — was at the legendary City News Bureau in Chicago. After several years there in the 1970s, he moved on briefly to the Rock Island Argus in western Illinois before returning to Chicago and joining the staff of the Chicago Sun-Times and then, in 1984, the Chicago Tribune. Maurice left the Tribune in August 2008 and began pursuing his investigative work into prosecutorial misconduct, wrongful convictions and other criminal justice issues in the private sector as a writer and consultant.
During his nearly-25-year tenure at the Tribune, Maurice worked as a federal courts reporter and then as a deputy metropolitan editor, where he managed a staff of more than 75 reporters and editors. Later he returned to his first love — reporting — as an investigative reporter specializing in criminal justice, where he covered a variety of high-profile criminal cases, including those of Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, and the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.
Former Illinois Governor George Ryan cited the Tribune’s reportage as playing a key role in his historic decision to institute a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois in 2000. Ryan cited the work of Maurice and his Tribune colleagues in 2003 when he commuted the death sentences of 167 Death Row inmates to life in prison without parole. In January 2011, the Illinois State legislature voted to repeal the death penalty permanently. In March, 2011, Ill. Governor Patrick Quinn signed the bill and Illinois became the 16th state to ban the death penalty in the U.S.
Maurice was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize three times — once for public service (2000), and twice for national reporting (2001, 2007) — for his work on wrongful convictions and wrongful executions.
In 2008, Maurice was one of two lead members of a team of Tribune reporters awarded the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a series of articles on hazardous children’s products that prompted numerous recalls as well as the most comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the history of that agency.
Maurice is the author of three non-fiction books — Everybody Pays: Two Men, One Murder and the Price of Truth, The Brown’s Chicken Massacre and the forthcoming Hitler in the Crosshairs: A GI’s Story of Courage and Faith.
He has been a consultant on a number of television and film projects over the years, including the award-winning documentary “At The Death House Door” by filmmakers Steve James and Peter Gilbert (they of Hoop Dreams fame), the feature-length 2004 documentary Deadline, television programs including Dateline, 60 Minutes, Bill Kurtis’ American Justice on A&E, as well a numerous writing, academic and investigative projects, some of which are still ongoing.
Maurice is a sought-after speaker and lecturer who, since the 1980s has taught classes at the college and graduate-school level on investigative reporting and criminal-justice-related issues at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, the University of Alaska, and the University of Michigan School of Law. From 2009 to 2012, he was an investigator for the Northern California Innocence Project at the University of Santa Clara’s School of Law.