May 11, 2016

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

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2016 —The American Bar Association today announced its selections 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 winners are:

  • “Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial,” a book that tells the story of the groundbreaking federal lawsuit against California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

  • Making a Murderer, a 10-episode documentary thriller, set in America’s heartland, about a DNA exoneree who finds himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime. Filmed over a 10-year period, it examines allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering and witness coercion.

  • “Law, Justice and the Death of Michael Brown,” a set of news stories published online by St. Louis Public Radio that offered in-depth legal understanding to the highly charged aftermath of the shooting of an unarmed African–American teenager by a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer.

  • “On the Media: Bench Press,” a radio program that seeks to demystify the U.S. Supreme Court and to inspire greater interest and curiosity about one of our nation’s most consequential and mysterious institutions. 

  • POV: Tough Love, a television documentary that illuminates America’s foster care system by allowing viewers to see and hear the personal stories of parents who fight to make their families whole.

The awards ceremony will take place July 12 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. ABA President Paulette Brown will present the Silver Gavel Awards to honorees.

The ABA will present five Silver Gavels and three honorable mentions from 122 entries received in all eligible categories — 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 highly selective group of winners of the 2016 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts are the end result of a rigorous review by the American Bar Association,” said Maryland District Court Judge Pamila J. Brown, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Gavel Awards. “We congratulate all of the awardees for their extraordinary efforts to foster the American public’s understanding of law.”

The awards have been presented annually since 1958. The 18-member ABA Standing Committee on Gavel Awards makes the final award decisions.

To learn more about the Silver Gavel Awards, go to

The following is a complete list of Silver Gavel winners and honorable mentions with a link to their work:


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

Honorable Mention

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


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

Honorable Mention

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


Honorable Mention

“Betrayed by the Badge”
The Associated Press
Nomaan Merchant and Scott Smith, Reporters
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 Entry 09-2779.pdf


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


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


With nearly 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.