American Bar Association

ABA announces 2020 Silver Gavel Awards finalists

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The ABA has selected 23 finalists from the 188 entries received for the 2020 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts, the association announced Wednesday.

The Silver Gavel Awards, which recognize outstanding work that fosters the public’s understanding of law and the legal system, have been presented each year since 1958. Eligible categories include books, commentaries, documentaries, drama and literature, magazines, multimedia, newspapers, radio and television.

A press release is here.

“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 50-member committee and counsel at Magavern Magavern Grimm in Buffalo, New York. “We congratulate these finalists and look forward to choosing awardees from this very select group.”

The 18-member ABA Standing Committee on Gavel Awards will select as winners the entries that best 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 on 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 Judy Perry Martinez will present the awards and honorable mentions on July 21 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for the Washington Post and contributor to MSNBC, also plans to speak at the event.

Here is the complete list of finalists:


Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration by Emily Bazelon; Penguin Random House.

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

Outbreak: Foodborne Illness and the Struggle for Food Safety by Timothy D. Lytton; The University of Chicago Press.

No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder; Bloomsbury Publishing.

A Place Outside the Law: Forgotten Voices from Guantánamo by Peter Jan Honigsberg; Beacon Press.

The Trials of Allegiance: Treason, Juries, and the American Revolution by Carlton F.W. Larson; 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: Personhood Documentary, LLC, Tandybrook Films, Wanderhouse Productions; Jo Ardinger, director, producer, writer and editor; Rosalie Miller, producer; Marc Pingry, director of photography; Stefan Hajek, consulting producer.

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

Drama and Literature

Just Mercy: Warner Bros. Pictures, Endeavor Content, One Community, Participant, Macro, Gil 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, political science professor at Auburn University; Phillip Ratliff, owner and creative director at Backstory Educational Media.


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”: Reuters; Dan Levine, Lisa Girion, Benjamin Lesser, Jaimi Dowdell and Michelle Conlin, correspondents.


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

The Path Home”: American Public Media’s In the Dark, season two; Madeleine Baran, host and lead reporter; Samara Freemark, senior producer; Natalie Jablonski, producer; Parker Yesko, reporter; Rehman Tungekar, associate producer; Will Craft, data reporter.

Pardon Me”: The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal; Michael Schiller, creative director; Taki Telonidis, senior supervising editor; Al Letson, host; Anna Hamilton, segment producer; Kevin Sullivan, executive producer.

A Thousand Ways to Kill You”: WAMU’s Unprecedented, season one, episode eight; Michael Vuolo and Matthew Schwartz, hosts and writers; Poncie Rutsch, senior producer, podcasts; Andi McDaniel, senior director, content and news; Ben Privot, audio engineer and sound designer.


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

Know My Name”: CBS News’ 60 Minutes; 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.

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