ABA Recognizes Media, Arts for Fostering Public Understanding Of United States Legal System

The American Bar Association announced its selections last week for the 2019 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts, recogniz­ing the best work that fosters the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system. 

The work being recognized this year focuses the 19th Amendment, untested rape kits, cash-advance companies, bad cops and campaign contributions.

The winners are:

Book: “The Woman’s Hour,” in which author Elaine Weiss tells the dramatic story of the climactic vote in Tennessee in the summer of 1920 to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guarantee­ing women a national right to vote.

Documentary: “I Am Evidence,” an HBO documen­tary that presents a powerful story – featuring legal advocates and courageous sexual-assault survi­vors from Detroit, Cleveland and Los Angeles – about the shameful backlog of untested rape kits, why it matters and what can be done to address this national problem.

Magazine: “Sign Here to Lose Everything,” a Bloomberg inves­tigation that exposes how cash-advance companies, relying on an arcane legal document known as a “confession of judgment,” exploit­ed the New York courts to obtain more than 25,000 judgments worth $1.5 billion against borrowers who had unwittingly signed away their due process rights.

Newspaper: “Protecting the Shield,” a 19-part newspaper se­ries by the Asbury Park Press that exhaustively documents how New Jersey’s fragmented police over­sight system regularly allowed known “bad” cops to remain on the job, with tragic human and severe financial consequences. 

Television: “Dark Money,” a PBS POV television documentary that focuses on Montana to probe the troubling influence of “dark money” – unlimited campaign con­tributions from undisclosed corpo­rate and individual donors – and to ponder the consequences of these practices for our electoral democ­racy. 

ABA President Bob Carlson will present Silver Gavels and Honorable Mentions on July 16 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The ABA will present five Silver Gavels and three honorable men­tions from 164 entries received in all eligible categories, which in­clude books, commentary, docu­mentaries, drama and literature, magazines, multimedia, newspa­pers, radio and television.

“The American Bar Association undertakes a rigorous judging pro­cess each year to select winners of the Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts,” said Stephen C. Edds, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Gavel Awards in a release. “Each of the awardees is truly deserving. We congratulate all of the 2019 awardees for their extraordinary efforts to further the American public’s understanding of law.”

The ABA has presented these awards each year since 1958. To learn more about the awards go to ambar.org/gavelawards.

– American Bar Association

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