Silver Gavel Award

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Silver Gavel Award
Awarded forHonors outstanding work by those who help improve comprehension of jurisprudence in the United States
Sponsored byAmerican Bar Association
CountryUnited States
WebsiteOfficial website

The Silver Gavel Award (also known as the ABA Silver Gavel Awards for Media and The Arts) is an annual award the American Bar Association gives to honor outstanding work by those who help improve comprehension of jurisprudence in the United States.[1][2][3]


The award is the American Bar Association's highest form of recognition.[4] The American Bar Association gives out the award during its annual meeting,[3][5] bestowing one award in each of several categories.[6] Decisions on award recipients are announced by the chairman of the American Bar Association's standing committee on gavel awards.[7] In a comment in the ABA Journal, American Bar Association Division for Public Education representative Howard Kaplan noted, "From the very beginning, the Association has recognized that legal drama has an unmatched capacity to humanize legal actors and, well, dramatize legal issues for public audiences."[8]


The Bar Association gave the first award in 1958.[3][9] The film directed by Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men, received the award in 1958.[8] Stanley Kramer's movie Judgment at Nuremberg received the award in 1962, and To Kill a Mockingbird directed by Robert Mulligan was recognized with the award in 1963.[8] In 1985, 391 candidates were entered in consideration to receive a Silver Gavel.[10] In addition to 15 honorees recognized with Silver Gavel Awards in 1987, the American Bar Association also handed out 20 Certificates of Merit.[11] In 1988, 298 organizations submitted 500 candidates for consideration for the Silver Gavel.[12] A total of 12 awards were given out in 1996, in categories including literary works, pieces written in periodicals, journalism, plays, and writing for the screen.[13] The 51st Silver Gavel Awards were announced by American Bar Association president William H. Neukom in Washington, D.C. at the National Press Club and included honorees The Denver Post, The Dallas Morning News, and Jeffrey Toobin for his book The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.[14] In 2011 Judge Jean Hudson Boyd was the first woman to receive the award.[15]


The News & Observer noted, "The ... Silver Gavel Awards are considered the premier honors for law-related publications and productions."[16] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette characterized the honor as the "top media award" of the American Bar Association.[17]

List of Winners[edit]

Category Title Credits
Books Unwarranted: Policing Without Permission
  • Barry Friedman, Author
  • Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Documentaries And Then They Came for Us
Drama & Literature Marshall
Newspapers Death-Penalty Defense Drama at Guantanamo War Court
Radio Breakdown Season 6: A Jury of His Peers
Television Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
  • PBS Distribution, Frontline, and ITVS

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Times staff (July 13, 1985). "Times Receives Award From Bar Association". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. p. 18.
  2. ^ "Hearld wins ABA for stories on Dade juries". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. June 9, 1985. p. 6A FRONT.
  3. ^ a b c "NPR Series Judicial Vacancy Crisis Wins American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award". National Public Radio. June 25, 1998. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  4. ^ Lechman, Bill (September 3, 1991). "KCNC-CHANNEL 4 wins award". The Rocky Mountain News. Colorado.
  5. ^ "NPR Documentary Murder, Punishment and Parole In Alabama Wins American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award". National Public Radio. June 24, 1997. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  6. ^ Lincoln Journal Star staff (April 29, 2010). "National award to Journal Star - American Bar Association honor is for eight-part 'Presumed Guilty' series". Lincoln Journal Star. Nebraska. p. B2.
  7. ^ "Harrison wins Silver Gavel Award". Lakeland Ledger. Lakeland, Florida. July 11, 1977. p. 1B.
  8. ^ a b c Neil, Martha (July 27, 2007). "Legal Education: 50th Year of ABA Silver Gavel Awards". ABA Journal. American Bar Association. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  9. ^ "Silver Gavel recipients named by American Bar Association". Daily Record of Rochester. Rochester, New York. July 25, 2002.
  10. ^ Sunday Call-Chronicle staff (June 16, 1985). "Series on child support wins bar award for call fyi". The Morning Call. Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Morning Call, Inc. p. B09.
  11. ^ Herald staff (July 14, 1987). "Bar Association honors Herald for coverage of imprisoned man". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. p. 3A.
  12. ^ "Post's Constitution series wins award from ABA". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. July 10, 1988. p. 2D.
  13. ^ "American Bar Association honors News with Silver Gavel Award". The Dallas Morning News. Dallas, Texas. August 29, 1996.
  14. ^ Neil, Martha (May 19, 2008). "ABA: Denver Post Sweeps Newspaper Category in 51st Annual Silver Gavel Awards". ABA Journal. American Bar Association. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  15. ^ "2011 Silver Gavel Award Recipient is Judge Jean Boyd". In Chambers. Archived from the original on March 27, 2014. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  16. ^ "N&O series on juvenile justice wins prize". The News & Observer. Raleigh, North Carolina: The News & Observer Pub. Co. July 9, 1994. p. B6.
  17. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (August 19, 1994). "Power of the 'List' TV screen doesn't detract from impact of 'Schindler's List'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pennsylvania. p. 28.
  18. ^ "2018 Winners". Retrieved 28 May 2018.

External links[edit]