President Trump sits with Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony this month in Quantico. There were a number of notable Trump- or Sessions-related blog posts at The Watch this year. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)
Opinion writer

It was an odd year to be on the criminal-justice beat. As promised, the Trump administration set about dismantling whatever progress we were making toward criminal-justice reform at the federal level (why do politicians only keep their bad promises?) and continued to spread misinformation about how often crimes occur and who commits them. Of course, President Trump was also making a ton of news outside the world of criminal justice, so much so that important stories at the state and local level were often buried.

Our biggest story here at The Watch was a months-long investigation into Hugo Holland, a notoriously aggressive Louisiana prosecutor who has been repeatedly accused of withholding exculpatory evidence and was fired several years ago for falsifying federal forms. But pay records show that Holland was subsequently hired by parishes all over the state, mostly to handle death penalty cases. Within a few years, he had doubled the salary he had been making at the time of his firing. He has also been hired to teach classes at orientations and conferences for new prosecutors, as well as to lobby the state legislature to vote against bills aimed at criminal-justice reform.

Speaking of Louisiana, The Watch also reported that the state Supreme Court justice who briefly earned national attention for his “lawyer dog” opinion has also made some controversial and prejudicial comments about pending cases on talk radio. We also eulogized two champions of justice in Louisiana: the longtime criminal defense attorney Sam Dalton, and John Thompson, the fiery activist who was twice convicted — and nearly executed — for crimes he did not commit.

It wasn’t all Louisiana. We continued to follow the story of Robert and Addie Harte, the Kansas couple wrongly raided by a SWAT team because of a trip to a gardening store and some loose-leaf tea. After the federal courts whittled their lawsuit down to a single, nearly-impossible-to-prove claim, the Hartes lost in front of a federal jury this month.

As for the Trump administration, we kept tabs on the White House’s and Justice Department’s record on civil liberties and criminal justice with the ongoing “Trump Watch” and will continue to do so. Other notable Trump- or Jeff Sessions-related posts from 2017:

Speaking of forensics, there were lots of other interesting stories on that beat.

We also continued to track the criminalization of poverty, mostly by pointing to terrific reporting and investigations done by other media outlets. Some of the more notable stories:

Here are a few of my other favorite posts from the past year:

Thanks for reading, as well as for your comments, leads and story ideas. I’ll be back after the Christmas holiday.