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American Bar Association announces 2016 Silver Gavel Award finalists for media and the arts


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American Bar Association announces 2016 Silver Gavel Award finalists for media and the arts

By John Glynn

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2016 —The American Bar Association today announced the 16 finalists for the 2016 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts, which recognize outstanding work that fosters the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system. This is the ABA’s highest honor in recognition of this purpose. 


“The ABA’s Gavel Awards Screening Committee had a difficult task in selecting finalists among so many worthy entries submitted this year,” said Pamila J. Brown, chair of the Gavel Awards committee. “We applaud our finalists and look forward to choosing awardees among an already select group.”

The winners — no more than one Silver Gavel is presented in each category — will be announced on May 11. 

The ABA Gavel Awards Screening Committee, composed of 45 lawyer-members of the ABA, selected the 16 finalists from 122 entries received in all eligible categories, which include books, magazines, newspapers, commentary, drama and literature, documentaries, television, radio and other media.

Selection criteria include: how the entry addresses the Gavel Awards’ purpose and objectives; educational value of legal information; impact on, or outreach to, the public; thoroughness and accuracy in presentation of issues; creativity and originality in approach to subject matter and effectiveness of presentation; and demonstrated technical skill in the entry’s production.                                                                            

The Association has presented these awards annually since 1958. The 18-member ABA Standing Committee on Gavel Awards makes the final award decisions. ABA President Paulette Brown will present the awards on July 12 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. 

To learn more about the Silver Gavel Awards, go to

The following is a complete list of finalists with a link to their work:


“Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial”
Kenji Yoshino, Author
The Crown Publishing Group

“Involuntary Heroes: Hurricane Katrina’s Impact on Civil Liberties”
Mitchell Crusto, Author
Carolina Academic Press

“Untrodden Ground: How Presidents Interpret the Constitution”
Harold Bruff, Author
University of Chicago Press


“Commentary on the Death Penalty”
The New Yorker
Lincoln Caplan, Senior Research Scholar
Carla Blumenkranz, Online News Director
Nicholas Thompson, Editor


“The Hunting Ground”
Chain Camera Pictures
Kirby Dick, Director/Writer
Amy Ziering, Producer

“Making a Murderer”
Laura Ricciardi, Director/Writer
Moira Demos, Director/Writer


Law and Order: SVU “Transgender Bridge”
Wolf Films
Dick Wolf, Creator


“No Man’s Land”
5280 Magazine
Chris Outcalt, Associate Editor


“Municipal Court Abuses”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Jeremy Kohler, Jennifer Mann, Stephen Deere, Writers

“Betrayed by the Badge”
The Associated Press
Nomaan Merchant, Reporter
Matt Sedensky & Martha Irvine, National Writers
Pauline Arrillaga, Editor
Maud Beelman, News Editor


“Law, Justice and the Death of Michael Brown”
St. Louis Public Radio
William Freivogel, Contributor
Donna Korando, Editor

“Precious Lives: Kids, Guns, and How We Can Stop the Violence”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Greg Borowski, Deputy Managing Editor
Ashley Luthern, Public Safety Reporter
Emily Forman, Eric Von, Brad Lichtenstein, Producers


“Presumption of Innocence for Sale”: Inside America’s Broken Bail System
John Hockenberry, Host
Rupert Allman, Executive Producer
Oliver Lazarus, Associate Producer
Amber Hall, Planning Editor

On the Media: “Bench Press”
New York Public Radio
Brooke Gladstone & Bob Garfield, Hosts
Katya Rogers, Executive Producer
Jesse Brenneman, Producer
Alana Casanova-Burgess, Associate Producer
Jennifer Munson, Technical Director


“America Reframed: The Perfect Victim”
American Documentary, Inc.
Carmen Vicencio, Series Producer/Director
Simon Kilmury & Chris Hastings, Executive Producers
Elizabeth Rohrbaugh, Director

“POV: Tough Love”
American Documentary / POV
Stephanie Wang-Breal, Director/Producer

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews