Legal Reporting Awards 2015

In 2015 the following legal journalists were recognised for their work in 2014.

Reporter of the year on legal issues

Anthea Cannon, Geelong Advertiser – a portfolio of work including 'Raza Hussain', 'One size does not fit all', ‘Bavage’ and '25-year fight for justice'.

Anthea had the best portfolio of work, demonstrating a great range of knowledge about the courts, legal issues and the justice system. Her entries included clear and lively reporting of court proceedings, interviews with key players in trials after judgments and exposure of shortcomings in the justice system in Geelong.

Columb Brennan Award for excellence in court-reporting

Nicole Ferrie, Bendigo Advertiser – ‘The Hicks trial’

A rare amount of sustained coverage by Nicole Ferrie takes us right inside the courtroom. She captures the drama, the detail, the Crown building its case and even the judge having to deal with antics in the court by the accused and his mother. Please contact us for a copy of Nicole's portfolio.

Tony Smith Award for reporting which promotes an understanding of the work of the courts

Steve Butcher, The Age – 'Sentencing explained'

Steve’s entry demonstrated exemplary detail and context to explain controversial sentencing decisions in a number of different cases.

Highly Commended
Fiona Hudson, Herald Sun – a portfolio of work ‘VCAT’ including ‘Betting clanger’, ‘Parachute fail’, ‘Bikie dad paydirt’, ‘Shirtfront’ ‘Loo blue’, ‘Grossi punch claim’, ‘Bridal frowns’,‘Band bookies fight’, ‘Huey’s diner’ and 'Fluffball'

Fiona discovered numerous cases of great human interest – many of them exclusive – in one of Victoria's most-used but under-reported jurisdictions, VCAT.

Best report in print

Anthea Cannon, Geelong Advertiser – '25-year fight for justice'

In a year in which the spotlight is firmly on domestic violence, this Geelong Advertiser report shows that even after 25 years, the law can catch up with a violent partner and deliver justice, at long last, to a victim.

Highly commended
Mark Russell, The Age – 'Three walk free from "vampire" gigolo'

Mark's three reports, written on the day of the not-guilty verdicts in the so-called ‘vampire gigolo’ case, included a rare, detailed explanation of the reasons behind the verdict, as well as a case study on the risks of contamination of the minds of jurors.

Best feature

Michael Green, Poetic justice: contemporary Australian voices on equality and human rights – ‘The long road to change’

A terrific narrative on a very important human rights case that enveloped African migrant teenagers, community lawyers, local police, a big city law firm and a future Police Commissioner. The case brought about change to one of our most controversial social issues – racial profiling.

Best report on television – news

Emily Stewart, ABC TV – ‘Great southern settlement’

Emily's report was about the settlement of the Great Southern trial. The trial resulted in tiny payouts to more than 21,000 investors around Australia. Emily’s report made a complex legal issue understandable, at the same time as painting a clear picture of the human impact through the interview with a soon-to-be bankrupted investor.

Best report on television – current affairs

Amy Bainbridge, ABC TV – ‘Family wins coronial review of VW case’

This original story dealt with the tragic death of a young woman in an unexplained car accident. It presented the viewpoint of the family and other VW owners in a calm manner and balanced that with the views of a number of automotive experts. It also explained the role of the Coroner and why new evidence led to a review of the decision. A compelling piece of TV current affairs that many could relate to, and that raised major questions about the accountability of global car manufacturers and how ordinary people can hold them legally accountable.

Highly commended
Sarah Farnsworth, 7:30 Victoria –‘Questions over Vic courts’ handling of abuse cases’

This story dealt with an emerging issue regarding the conduct of child sex abuse trials as a result of a decision by the Victorian Court of Appeal.

Best report on radio

Jon Faine, Daniel Ziffer and Andy Burns, 774 ABC Melbourne – ‘Family Court crisis'

This report broke rare ground by getting the Chief Justice of the Family Court on air (and in studio) detailing severe problems in her court and other Family law jurisdictions because of Legal Aid shortages. These problems result, she agreed, in compromised cases, ex-partners harassing each other in court and on the witness stand and potential harm from embittered people. This is a rare clarion call to politicians from a senior judge.

Best online report

Rania Spooner, The Age –‘Court in the act: how commuters are defeating myki fines’

Rania Spooner’s piece about absolute liability offences for myki fare evasion describes a common scene in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court building, with members of the public challenging their $200 myki fines. Rania describes the intricacies of the law and the ‘strange theatre’ that often results.

Highly commended
Liz Hobday, ABC’s The Drum – ‘Some tragedies go beyond the justice system’

Liz Hobday’s piece examines the very real consequences of a tragic act by one man, and the attempts made by the justice system and the media to deal with this complex case.

Best report in community or regional media

Anthea Cannon, Geelong Advertiser –‘Bavage’

Anthea's news story, and accompanying feature on serial sex offender Jeffrey Bavage, is a powerful and compelling piece of reportage. She clearly paints a picture of the impact of crimes on a regional community, and on the victims she interviewed. She outlined the workings of the County Court and the sentencing principles in sexual assault cases. She also highlighted the resources available to victims of crimes. Her meticulous reach into Bavage's 30-year history of serious offending made chilling reading.

Highly commended
Nicole Ferrie, Bendigo Advertiser –‘Sentence will never end pain’

Nicole’s story about the trial of baby-killer Harley Hicks details the impact of this violent crime on the local community and the attempts by the justice system in the ensuing investigation to piece together what happened.

Best multicultural media report

Rania Spooner and Adam Cooper, The Age –‘The tug of war that trapped a daughter’

Rania Spooner and Adam Cooper’s story is a thoughtful portrayal of a mother and daughter trapped in a legal limbo across international borders.

Best business-related legal report

Adele Ferguson and Ruth Williams, The Age –‘Ripe for the picking’

This is the epitome of business and legal reporting. A comprehensive piece that nails the facts around the utterly unfair treatment of 7500 dudded investors in a failed agribusiness scheme.

Highly commended
Patrick Durkin, The Australian Financial Review – ‘Downfall of the insiders’

Patrick’s piece brought public attention to the insider-trading case involving Lukas Kamay and Chris Hill, and shed light on the complex new details of a case that required considerable and careful explanation.

This page was last updated on June 05, 2015