July 10, 2018
Contact: Amy Starnes
Public Information Director, State Bar of Texas
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1706, or (512) 427-1706

Winners of the 2018 Texas Gavel Awards announced

AUSTIN — In-depth stories that investigated how a Houston serial rapist was allowed to walk free for years, exposed an election scandal that resulted in a voter fraud investigation, and others are among the winners of the 2018 Texas Gavel Awards.

Journalists representing the Houston Chronicle, WFAA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth, and the Caller-Times and KRIS-TV, both of Corpus Christi, were selected as winners of the 2018 Texas Gavel Awards. The Texas Gavel Awards honor journalism that deepens public understanding of the legal system.

The State Bar of Texas will present the awards to the winners at a luncheon on September 21 in conjunction with the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas’ annual conference in Austin.

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 evaluated for educational value, journalistic excellence, objectivity, creativity, and overall quality.
The winners are listed below by award category, along with short descriptions of their entries.

Print, Major Metro: Anita Hassan, formerly of the Houston Chronicle, wins with the four-part series Serial Indifference that began when the community learned that a rape victim had been jailed to compel her testimony against her attacker. But months of Hassan’s digging also uncovered failings in the criminal justice system that allowed the woman’s attacker — a convicted sex offender accused of raping several homeless women — to walk free for years. Hassan now works as an investigative reporter at the Las Vegas Review-Journal

Print, Non-Metro: Eleanor Dearman and Krista M. Torralva of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times used public records requests and interviews to reveal that a sitting judge, accused in a road rage incident of pointing a gun at a vehicle’s occupants, had been involved in other, earlier road rage cases.

Broadcast, Major Metro: Tanya Eiserer and Jason Wheeler, both of WFAA-TV, tied for the top spot in this category. It appears to be the first time that two journalists from the same station have tied for winning spots in the Texas Gavel Awards. Eiserer wins with her special report: A North Texas rape victim fights for a voice which followed a woman’s fight for justice after she was sexually assaulted and felt re-victimized by authorities. Wheeler wins with his report: 'Miss Manners’ goes to Texas prisons to teach etiquette to inmates. Wheeler examined the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Prison Entrepreneurship Program and an unexpected mentor who teaches etiquette to inmates.

Broadcast, Non-Metro: Jessica Savage, Michael Salazar, Cameron Gorman, and Veronica Flores of KRIS-TV win with coverage of suspected voter fraud in a Robstown city runoff election and the ensuing investigation.

The State Bar of Texas features winner bios and links to the stories at

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas’ 2018 state conference will be held September 21 at the Hyatt Regency Austin, 208 Barton Springs Road. This year’s theme is “Texas: Let the Sun Shine.” The Texas Gavel Awards will be presented 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 us on Twitter and Instagram @statebaroftexas, like us on Facebook at, or visit

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