Butler Snow’s Stephen C. Edds was recently mentioned in the ABA Journal’s article Silver Gavel Awards have honored outstanding depictions of law in media for 60 years about his involvement with the Silver Gavel Awards:
In 2017, the ABA Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts will celebrate their 60th anniversary. To Kill a Mockingbird, Law & Order, NPR’s All Things Considered, SCOTUSblog and Netflix’s Making a Murderer—these were different forms of media, but all increased public awareness and understanding of the American judicial system and all have earned Silver Gavels over the years.
It was the influential ABA President Charles S. Rhyne who first conceived of the awards and presided over the inaugural award ceremony in 1958. The Silver Gavel Awards recognize outstanding work in the media and the arts that meets at least one of three goals: educating the public about fundamental legal principles and values, as well as about the American legal system; educating the public about the role of lawyers and other legal professionals and the operation of legal institutions; and encouraging support for improvements in the justice system by raising public awareness of current laws and policies.
Since so much of the mission of the Silver Gavel Awards involves education, it eventually found a home in the ABA Division for Public Education, which manages the competition every year. This year, that meant accepting more than 150 submissions and sending them to a screening committee of 45 volunteers who winnow down the finalists. Once the finalists have been chosen, the 18-member ABA Standing Committee on Gavel Awards meets for two days in Chicago to debate the merits of each entry.
The winners are typically announced in May. Although the award ceremony used to be part of the ABA Annual Meeting, it has grown to be its own event, hosted at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Stephen C. Edds of Butler Snow in Jackson, Mississippi, is the current chair of the standing committee.
“Many people don’t understand the Silver Gavel Awards and what we’re trying to do,” Edds says. “I’m hoping that the more people that learn about it, the more people will pick up a book or tune into a podcast and really see the kind of work we see every year.”