July 23, 2014

Lowell Brown, communications division director 
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1713, or (512) 427-1713

2014 Texas Gavel Awards winners announced

AUSTIN — In-depth stories exploring questionable science in the courtroom, delays in immigration courts, and potential gaps in the Texas mental health system are among the winners of the 2014 Texas Gavel Awards, the State Bar of Texas announced today.

Journalists representing the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Observer, KLRU-TV (Austin), KRGV-TV (Weslaco), and The Texas Tribune have been selected as winners of 2014 Texas Gavel Awards, which honor journalism that deepens public understanding of the legal system. The State Bar of Texas will honor the winners at an awards luncheon Sept. 12 in Austin in conjunction with the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas annual conference.

“Our system of government depends on having a well-informed citizenry, and journalists play a vital role in informing the public,” said Rudy England, chair of the State Bar of Texas Public Affairs Committee. “These awards are about recognizing reporting that makes complex legal issues easy to understand and discloses practices and procedures that need changing to ensure justice is served.”

The winners are listed below by award category, along with short descriptions of their entries.

  • Print, Major Metro: Brantley Hargrove, Dallas Observer, is the winner for “Burning Injustice,” a story about a woman’s fight to clear her name after a disputed murder conviction and the state’s efforts to deal with arson convictions involving “junk science.”

  • Print, Non-Metro: Michelle Villarreal, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, is the winner for “Death of Innocence,” a story about difficulties surrounding the release of information to the public and media in crimes involving juveniles and gag orders.

  • Broadcast, Major Metro: Lynn Boswell, KLRU-TV and Villita Media, is the winner for “Admissions on Trial: Seven Decades of Race and Higher Education,” an in-depth look at how colleges and universities decide which students to admit and reject and the courts’ role in answering whether race has a place in the decision.

  • Broadcast, Non-Metro: Joe Augustine (reporter) and Mario Sandoval (photographer/editor), KRGV-TV, are winners for “Trapped,” which highlights delays in immigration courts and the effects of the government’s decision to reprioritize cases.

  • Online: Brandi Grissom, The Texas Tribune, is the winner for “Trouble in Mind,” a six-part series examining the intersections of the Texas mental health and criminal justice systems and the developing jurisprudence around brain science.

The State Bar will feature winner bios and links to their stories at prior to the awards ceremony.

Each year, the State Bar of Texas Public Affairs Committee coordinates the Texas Gavel Awards and recruits an independent panel of journalists and legal professionals to judge the entries. Submissions are judged on their educational value, journalistic excellence, objectivity, creativity, and overall quality.

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas’s 2014 Bernard and Audre Rapoport State Conference is scheduled for 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Hilton Austin, 500 E. Fourth St. The conference will examine public access to courts, social media use in open government, and new laws and best practices pertaining to the Texas Public Information Act, among other topics. The Texas Gavel Awards presentation will occur during the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon. For more information or to register for the conference, visit

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The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system. For more information, follow the State Bar on Twitter @statebaroftexas, like the State Bar on Facebook at, or visit

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