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Recipients of 2020 Silver Gavel Awards announced

May 25. 2020

The American Bar Association has announced the recipients of the 2020 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts, which recognize outstanding work that fosters understanding of law and the legal system.

Silver Gavel Awardees focus on court secrecy, racial justice, criminal justice reforms, and women’s rights.

Silver Gavel Awardees focus on court secrecy, racial justice, criminal justice reforms, and women’s rights.

American Bar Association graphic

“The American Bar Association engages in a deliberative and thorough judging process to select winners of the Silver Gavel Awards,” said Sharon Stern Gerstman, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Gavel Awards. “We congratulate all of our 2020 awardees for their exceptional efforts to advance the American public’s understanding of law.”

The work being recognized focuses on topics including court secrecy and open justice, racial justice, criminal justice system reforms, and women’s rights.

The 2020 Silver Gavel award recipients are:      

  • “Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration,” in which author Emily Bazelon presents a probing critique of the American criminal justice system and tells the story of reform-minded district attorneys and the movement for change.
  • “Debtors Prison,” powerful commentary by St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger about Missourians being jailed, essentially, for being poor.
  • “Personhood,” a thought-provoking documentary about reproductive rights that examines an expanding set of laws that criminalize and police pregnant women.
  • “Just Mercy,” a fact-based film drama about civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his fight to exonerate Alabama death-row inmate Walter McMillian.
  • “Hidden Injustice,” a Reuters newspaper investigative series about “how U.S. courts cover up deadly secrets” by allowing litigants to seal court evidence in cases affecting public health and safety.
  • “In the Dark: Season Two-The Path Home,” a podcast series by American Public Media, whose tenacious investigation into the case of  Curtis Flowers, a black man in Mississippi,  led to a review by the U.S. Supreme Court and then to Flowers’ 2019 release from prison on bond, after going through six trials and four death sentences.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic ABA President Judy Perry Martinez will present the Gavel Awards as a virtual event on Tuesday, July 21 at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT/3 p.m. MT/2 p.m. PT.

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