Law in Popular Culture

ABA announces 22 finalists for 2021 Silver Gavel Awards

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For the past 62 years, the ABA has honored books, documentaries, other media and art for their role in fostering the public’s understanding of law and the legal system.

The association announced this year’s 22 finalists for its Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts on Thursday. They were selected from 130 entries in all eligible categories, which also include commentaries, drama and literature, magazines, multimedia, newspapers, radio and television.

“We were blessed with many excellent entries in the various categories, and the ABA Gavel Awards Screening Committee had a difficult task in selecting these outstanding finalists,” Sharon Stern Gerstman, chair of the Standing Committee on Gavel Awards, said in a press release. “We congratulate the finalists and thank them for the submission of their excellent works.”

The 18-member Standing Committee on Gavel Awards will select the award recipients based on how well they address the purpose of the awards; demonstrate the educational value of legal information and impact on the public; exhibit an accurate, thorough and effective presentation of the issues; and display creativity and originality in approach to the subject matter and technical skill in production.

Winners will be announced May 20. No more than one Silver Gavel will be presented in each category. Honorable mentions are also awarded but not in every category every year.

ABA President Patricia Lee Refo will present the awards and honorable mentions July 13 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. David McCraw, vice president and deputy general counsel at the New York Times Co., will also speak at the event.

Here is the complete list of finalists:


Cyber Privacy: Who Has Your Data and Why You Should Care by April Falcon Doss; BenBella Books Inc.

Marriage Equality: From Outlaws to In-Laws by William Eskridge Jr. and Christopher Riano; Yale University Press.

On Treason: A Citizen’s Guide to the Law by Carlton F. W. Larson; Ecco/HarperCollins.

Separated - Inside an American Tragedy by Jacob Soboroff; Custom House/HarperCollins.

Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America by Adam Cohen; Penguin Press/Penguin Random House.


Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America: Steeplechase Films and the Cooperstown Graduate Program; Emily Pfeil, Kathryn Clinard and Steven Bennet, producers; Gretchen Sorin and Ric Burns, writers and directors; Emir Lewis, editor and producer.

Belly of the Beast: Idle Wild Films; Erika Cohn, director and producer; Angela Tucker, Christen Marquez and Nicole Docta, producers.

The Vote: A 42nd Parallel Films Production for American Experience; Michelle Ferrari, writer, director and producer; Connie Honeycutt, producer; Nancy Novack and Ilya Chaiken, editors; Mark Samels and Susan Bellows, executive producers.


Fear, Illness and Death in ICE Detention: How a Protest Grew on the Inside”: The New York Times Magazine/Type Investigations; Seth Freed Wessler, reporting fellow.

The 1857 Project”: Gateway Journalism Review; the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting; William Freivogel, publisher; Steve Edwards, illustrator; Amelia Blakely and Kayla Chamness, student reporters.


American Injustice”: Reuters; Reuters staff.

Defenseless”: The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting/The Maine Monitor; Daniel Dinsmore, editor; Samantha Hogan, senior reporter.


Myon Burell Walks Free”: The Associated Press; Robin McDowell and Margie Mason, reporters; Sasha Aslanian, producer; John Minchillo, photographer.

Targeted”: Tampa Bay Times; Kathleen McGrory and Adam Playford, investigations editors; Neil Bedi, investigative reporter; Douglas Clifford, staff photojournalist.


The Ahmaud Arbery Story”: WABE’s Buried Truths, season three; Je-Anne Berry and John Haas, executive producers; David Barasoain, senior producer; Richard Halicks and Hank Klibanoff, writers.

Deep Background with Noah Feldman”: Pushkin Industries; Noah Feldman, host; Lidia Jean Kott, producer; Sophie McKibben, showrunner; Martin Gonzalez, engineer; Luis Guerra, music.

Louder Than a Riot”: NPR; Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden, hosts and reporters; Rachel Neel, senior supervising producer; Michael May, Matt Ozug, Dustin DeSoto, Adelina Lancianese and Sam Leeds, producers; Chiquita Paschal and Chenjerai Kumanyika, editors; Steve Nelson, senior programming director; Lauren Onkey, senior music director.

No Special Duty”: WNYC/New York Public Radio, Radiolab; Sarah Qari and B.A. Parker, reporters and producers; Matthew Kielty, senior producer; Pat Walters, senior editor; Jad Abumrad, host.


Voting in the Pandemic”: CBS News’ 60 Minutes; Bill Whitaker, correspondent; Marc Lieberman, Ali Rawaf and Guy Campanile, producers; Richard Buddenhagen, Craig Crawford and Michael Mongulla, editors; Emilio Almonte and Lucy Hatcher, associate producers.

Florida’s Amendment 4”: CBS News’ 60 minutes; Lesley Stahl, correspondent; Sara Kuzmarov, coordinating producer; Shachar Bar-On, producer; Natalie Jimenez Peel, associate producer; Sean Kelly, editor.

Accused - Guilty or Innocent?” A&E and Brinkworth Production; Malcolm Brinkworth, Xander Brinkworth, David Herman, Brad Holcman, Shelly Tatro and Elaine Frontain Bryant, executive producers; Matt Kennedy, director and producer; Oliver Banks, producer; Ben Gates and Sam Eastall, editors; Sunshine Jackson, series editor.

Justice for All”: CBS News.

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