chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
March 11, 2020

Finalists named for 2020 ABA Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2020 —The American Bar Association today announced the 23 finalists for the 2020 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. 

“There were many excellent entries submitted, and the ABA Gavel Awards Screening Committee had a difficult task in selecting these finalists,” said Sharon Stern Gerstman, chair of the Standing Committee on Gavel Awards. “We congratulate these finalists and look forward to choosing awardees from this very select group.”

The winners will be announced on May 20. No more than one Silver Gavel is presented in each category. Honorable Mentions are also recognized, but awards are not presented in every category every year.

The ABA Gavel Awards Screening Committee, composed of 50 lawyer-members of the ABA, selected the 23 finalists from 188 entries received in all eligible categories, which include books, commentaries, documentaries, drama and literature, magazines, multimedia, newspapers, radio and television.

Selection criteria include: how the entry addresses the Silver 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 ABA has presented these awards each year since 1958. The 18-member ABA Standing Committee on Gavel Awards makes the final award decisions. ABA President Judy Perry Martinez will present Silver Gavels and Honorable Mentions on July 21 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for The Washington Post and contributor for MSNBC, will be the featured speaker.

To learn more about the Silver Gavel Awards, go to

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

“Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration”
Emily Bazelon, author
Penguin Random House

“Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness”
Jennifer Berry Hawes, author
St. Martin’s Publishing Group

“Outbreak: Foodborne Illness and the Struggle for Food Safety”
Timothy D. Lytton, author
|The University of Chicago Press

 “No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us”
Rachel Louise Snyder, author
Bloomsbury Publishing

“A Place Outside the Law: Forgotten Voices from Guantanamo”
Peter Jan Honigsberg, author
Beacon Press

“The Trials of Allegiance: Treason, Juries, and the American Revolution”
Carlton F.W. Larson, author
Oxford University Press


“Debtors Prison”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Marcia Koenig, metro editor
Tony Messenger, metro columnist


“Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066”
JJML Productions LLC
Jon Osaki, director, producer, and editor
Lauren Kawana, consulting producer

Personhood Documentary, LLC
Tandybrook Films and Wanderhouse
Jo Ardinger, director, producer, writer, editor
Rosalie Miller, producer
Marc Pingry, director of photography
Stefan Hajek, consulting producer

“True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality”
HBO and Kunhardt Films
George Kunhardt, Peter Kunhardt, and Teddy Kunhardt, directors and producers
Maya Mumma, editor and producer


“Just Mercy”
Warner Bros. Pictures with Endeavor Contact, One Community, Participant, Macro, Netter Productions, and Outlier Society
Destin Daniel Cretton, director and writer
Gil Netter, producer
Asher Goldstein, producer


“An American Black Site”
Type Media Center and The Nation
Aviva Stahl, freelance journalist


“Alabama Justice: The Cases and Faces That Changed a Nation”
Auburn University and Backstory Educational Media
Steven Brown, professor of political science
Phillip Ratliff, founder and principal


“Crack vs. Heroin: An unfair system arrested millions of blacks, urged compassion for whites”
Asbury Park Press
Paul D’Ambrosio, executive editor
Shannon Mullen, Austin Bogues, and Andrew Goudsward, staff writers
Lisa Kruse, breaking news editor

“Hidden Injustice”
Dan Levine, Lisa Girion, Benjamin Lesser
Jaimi Dowdell, and Michelle Conlin


“Broken Justice”
PBS NewsHour
Vika Aronson, podcast producer
Frank Carlson, general assignment producer
Amna Nawaz, senior national correspondent and primary substitute anchor

“In The Dark: Season Two-The Path Home”
American Public Media
Madeleine Baran, host and lead reporter
Samara Freemark, senior reporter
Natalie Jablonski, producer
Parker Yesko, reporter
Rehman Tungekar, associate producer
Will Craft, data reporter

“Pardon Me”
Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting
Michael Schiller, creative director
Taki Telonidis, senior supervising editor
Al Letson, radio show host
Anna Hamilton, segment producer
Kevin Sullivan, executive producer

“Unprecedented Season 1 – A Thousand Ways to Kill You”
Michael Vuolo and Matthew Schwartz, hosts and writers
|Poncie Rutsch, senior producer, podcasts
Andi McDaniel, senior director, content & news
Ben Privot, audio engineer & sound designer


“60 Minutes: "This is No Ordinary Lawsuit”
CBS News
Steve Kroft, correspondent
Draggan Mihailovich, producer
Katie Brennan and Chrissy Jones, associate producers
Warren Lustig, editor

“60 Minutes: Know My Name”
CBS News
Bill Whitaker, correspondent
Graham Messick and Jack Weingart, producers
Matthew Lev, editor

“Blowin’ Up”
POV | American Documentary and Once in a Blue Films
Stephanie Wang-Breal, director
Carrie Weprin, producer
Jonathan Oppenheim, editor
Erik Shirai, director of photography
Justine Nagan and Chris White, executive producers

“The Feeling of Being Watched”
POV | American Documentary and Multitude Films
Assia Boundaoui, director and producer
Jessica Devaney, producer
Rabab Haj Yahya, editor
Shuling Yong, director of photography
Justine Nagan and Chris White, executive producers


The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers 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