Law in Popular Culture

2021 Silver Gavel Awards honor works on court secrecy, racial justice, women's rights

  • Print


Image from Shutterstock.

This year’s winners of the ABA 2021 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts focused on matters that included court secrecy, open justice, racial justice, criminal justice system and women’s rights.

The awards recognize work that fosters public understanding of law and the legal system.

Categories include books, commentary, documentaries, drama and literature, magazines, multimedia, newspapers, radio and television. Not every category receives an award every year.

This year, the ABA is presenting six silver gavels and six honorable mentions among 22 finalists identified from 130 entries.

An ABA press release is here.

The winners are:


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

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


Silver Gavel: 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.

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

Honorable Mention: 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.


Silver Gavel: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.

Honorable Mention: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.


Silver Gavel:American Injustice”: Reuters; Reuters staff.


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

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


Silver Gavel: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.

Honorable Mention: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.

“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 2021 awardees for their exceptional efforts to advance the American public’s understanding of law.”

ABA President Patricia Lee Refo will present the Silver Gavel Awards during a virtual event July 13.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.