March 19, 2018

American Bar Association announces finalists for 2018 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2018 —The American Bar Association today announced the 19 finalists for the 2018 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 Gavel Awards Screening Committee had a very difficult task in selecting these finalists among so many qualified entries,” said Stephen C. Edds, chair of the Standing Committee on Gavel Awards. “We congratulate our finalists and look forward to choosing awardees among an already select group.”

The winners will be announced on May 23. 

No more than one Silver Gavel is presented in each category. Honorable mentions are also awarded, but awards are not presented in every category every year.

The ABA Gavel Awards Screening Committee, composed of 45 lawyer-members of the ABA, selected the 19 finalists from 166 entries received in all eligible categories, which include books, commentary, documentaries, drama and literature, magazines, multimedia, newspapers, radio, and television.

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 each year since 1958. The 18-member ABA Standing Committee on Gavel Awards makes the final award decisions. ABA President Hilarie Bass will present Silver Gavels and Honorable Mentions on July 17 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 links to their work:


“An American Sickness”
Elizabeth Rosenthal, author
Penguin Random House

“Habeas Corpus in Wartime: From the Tower of London to Guantanamo Bay”
Amanda Tyler, author
Oxford University Press

“In Praise of Litigation”
Alexandra Lahav, author
Oxford University Press

“Not a Crime to be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America”
Peter Edelman, author
The New Press

“The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives”
Jesse Eisinger, author
Simon & Schuster

“Unwarranted: Policing Without Permission”
Barry Friedman, author
Farrar, Straus and Giroux


“And Then They Came for Us”
Ginzberg Productions
Abby Ginzberg, producer and co-director
Ken Schneider, editor and co-director
Tatsu Aoki, composer
Richard Cahan, associate producer and photo historian

“Birthright: A War Story”
Tamarkin Productions
Civia Tamarkin, director, executive producer, and co-writer
Luchina Fisher, co-executive producer and co-writer

“They Call Us Monsters”
BMP Films
Ben Lear, director
Sasha Alpert, producer


Michael Koskoff and Jacob Koskoff, writers
Reginald Hudlin, director and producer
Paula Wagner and Jonathan Sanger, producers
Chestnut Ridge Productions and Hudlin Entertainment
Open Road Films and Starlight Media


“Witness to Guantanamo”
Peter Honigsberg, director and founder
John Symons, filmmaker
Eva Moss, creative director
Adriana Puente, director of Development & Engagement
Melissa Delzio, designer
Kira Cain, social media coordinator


“Death-Penalty Defense Drama at Guantanamo War Court”
Miami Herald
Carol Rosenberg, Military Affairs reporter
Dave Wilson, senior editor

“Secrecy Rules”
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minn.)
James Shiffer, reporter


“Breakdown Season 6: A Jury of his Peers”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Richard Halicks, senior editor
Kevin Riley, editor-in-chief
Bill Rankin, Legal Affairs writer
Pete Corson, audience specialist

“Null and Void”
Radiolab at WNYC
Maria Matasar-Padilla, managing director
Tracie Hunte, reporter
Matt Kielty, producer
Soren Wheeler, managing editor

“The Bookie, the Phone Booth, and the FBI”
WNYC Studios New York Public Radio
Manoush Zomorodi, host and managing editor
Kat Aaron, senior producer
Jen Poyant, executive producer


“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”
PBS Distribution, Frontline, and ITVS
Mitten Media, Motto Pictures and Kartemquin Films Production
Steve James, director
Mark Mitten, producer
Julie Goldman, producer

“Baltimore Rising”
Blowback Productions for HBO Documentary Films
Sonja Sohn, director and executive producer
Marc Levin, Anthony Hemingway, George Pelecanos, and Mark Taylor, executive producers
Sheila Nevins, executive producer, HBO
Nancy Abraham, senior producer

48 Hours: “Guilty Until Proven Innocent”
48 Hours/CBS News
Maureen Maher, correspondent
Peter Schweitzer, senior producer
Nancy Kramer, executive story editor
Judy Rybak, producer           
Alicia Tejada, field producer        


Go to for the ABA’s new feature that cites case and statutory law and other legal precedents to distinguish legal fact from fiction.

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.