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Dallas Bar Salutes Excellence in Legal Reporting

Friday, October 13, 2017

Local Media Take Home the Awards!

The Dallas Bar Association honored the best legal news reporting in the Dallas-Fort Worth area today, October 13, as it hosted the 34th Annual Stephen Philbin Awards at the Belo Mansion. In selecting the winners, judges consider educational value, accuracy, resourcefulness, as well as the journalist’s initiative in pursuing the story and the story’s contribution to public debate.

Taking home this year’s grand prize award was Skip Hollandsworth, of Texas Monthly, for his article “The Prisoner,” which tells the story of Edwin Debrow, arrested in 1991 for murder at just 12 years old, and the past 25 years of his incarceration – only halfway through his sentence. The article delves into the long-debated question of what should be done with kids who commit violent crimes. One judge stated: “I found this piece moving in its coverage of the personal stories that make up the criminal justice process. It handled the issues raised by the story with dignity, insight, and thoughtfulness.”

            Additional winners include:

·         Suburban/Specialty Article: Kathy Cruz, Hood County News, for her series “State of Despair”

·         Series/Investigative Article: Matt Goodman, D Magazine, for his series, “Coverage of Dr. Duntsch, the First Doctor Convicted for Harming Patients”

·         Breaking News: Naheed Rajwani, The Dallas Morning News, for her article “How a Texas Teen Accused of a Sexual Assault with a Coat Hanger Walked with Probation”

·         Feature Article: Christian McPhate, Patrick Williams, Sarah Schumacher, and Danny Fulgencio, Dallas Observer, for their article “Untrue Detective”

·         Visual/Multi-Media Story: Brett Shipp, Jason Trahan, and Mark Muller, WFAA-TV, for their article “Exonoree Payments Questioned”

·         Student Publication: Matt Fulkerson, The Shorthorn at the University of Texas-Arlington, for his article “Studies Show Carcinogen Prevalence in Drinking Water”

The Philbin Awards were established in 1983 in honor of Stephen Philbin, an active member of the Dallas Bar Association and a leading authority on media law, who lost his battle with leukemia in 1982. Winners in each of the categories receive a $1,000 cash award, with the Grand Prize winner receiving a $1,750 cash award. Winning entries are selected by a panel of judges, which included Lisa A. Rich, Associate Professor of Law, Texas A&M University School of Law; and Jessica Dixon Weaver, Associate Professor of Law, SMU Dedman School of Law.

David McCraw, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of The New York Times, was the keynote speaker for this year’s Philbin Awards Luncheon, which included an audience of nearly 200 lawyers, judges, and journalists.


The Dallas Bar Association is a professional, voluntary organization of more than 11,000 Dallas-area attorneys. To find out more, visit

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