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Reporters, Member Earn Awards

Reporters, Member Earn Awards

The North Carolina Bar Association’s annual Media and the Law Awards were presented March 9 at the North Carolina Press Association’s winter institute in Raleigh.

President Kearns Davis presented the awards.

Michael Gordon of the Charlotte Observer was the recipient of the Media and the Law Award for Best Daily Newspaper Article. His article, “Clerk goes after racial bias in local institutions,” examined the efforts of Elisa Chinn-Gary, Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court and a driving force behind Race Matters for Juvenile Justice.

Editor Rick Thames accepted the award on Gordon's behalf.

Holly Kays accepts award from Kearns Davis.

Holly Kays of the Smoky Mountain News was the recipient of the Media and the Law Award for Best Series. Her winning series dealt with the complexities of a suit brought by tribal members against their Tribal Council over pay raises council members had voted themselves.

NCBA member Amanda Martin of Stevens Martin Vaughn & Tadych in Raleigh was also honored at the event. She received the William Lassiter First Amendment Award, presented annually to a citizen who has demonstrated exemplary commitment to open government and First Amendment rights.

The award was created in 1988 in honor of longtime general counsel William C. Lassiter, who represented the NCPA for nearly 50 years. Martin now serves in that capacity and, borrowing from her firm’s website, “routinely has counseled reporters, editors and news directors about avoiding libel suits, gaining access to closed government meetings and records and resisting subpoenas.”

Martin is a past chair of the NCBA Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section.

The Media and the Law awards program was established by the North Carolina Bar Association in 1989, solidifying a relationship with the North Carolina Press Association that has endured throughout the existence of the NCBA.

J. Crawford Biggs, the UNC law professor who issued a call for the organization of the bar in 1899, was the son of William Biggs, editor of the Tarboro Southerner, who issued the call for the formation of the press association in 1873.

Judging for these awards is conducted by the NCBA Communications Committee, which bases its evaluations on accurate, informative coverage of law-related issues which fosters greater public understanding of the legal system and the role of lawyers in society.