Chicago broadcaster Geoffrey Baer provided the keynote address at this year’s celebration of the Chicago Bar Association’s Herman Kogan Media Awards this past Tuesday, May 10 at Maggiano’s, Chicago. The annual awards are presented by the CBA to honor journalists who cover the legal community, courts, judges, police and public officials who administer justice. Joining Baer were special guests, journalist John Flynn Rooney of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, who was being honored for his career, and Rick and Mark Kogan, sons of Herman Kogan.
Last August, Rooney, a 27-year veteran of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin announced his retirement due to the progression of ALS. Rooney was honored with a special “career” Kogan Award, as a way to formally and personally thank him for his years of observing and reporting on the law, the courts, and the legal profession.
Of Rooney, former CBA president Justice Michael B. Hyman, who made the presentation, said, "Our legal community was truly fortunate to have had such an honorable and capable reporter as John. On a daily basis, John told our stories, and told them with integrity and accuracy, insight, and dedication to the highest ideals of journalism."
The Kogan Awards have been presented every year by the Chicago Bar Association since 1989. Award categories are: print - legal beat reporting, print - feature or series reporting, broadcast, and online reporting. In addition to the Kogan trophy, a $1,000.00 scholarship donation is made in the name of each Kogan winner to the university English or journalism department of his/her choice.
CBA president Hon. Patricia Brown Holmes hosted the luncheon event, while Kogan committee chair Dennis Culloton emceed the awards presentation.
Keynoter Geoffrey Baer captivated the audience of lawyers and journalists with his unique gift for imparting history through storytelling about Chicago’s past. He touched on several points in the City’s history when legal issues affected the course of events. He cited philanthropist Montgomery Ward’s years of legal wrangling to establish Grant Park; aldermen and bribes in the digging of train tunnels under the City; property disputes over the relocation of railroad lines; a lawsuit between St. Louis and Chicago over the reversal of the course of the Chicago river that ended in the U.S. Supreme Court; a graveyard that spared a suburban golf club from annexation for the railroad; and an all-out brawl between the citizens of Wheaton and Naperville over County records complete with a violent midnight raid and the formation of a posse.
2016 Kogan award winners
In the “Print – Legal Beat Reporting” category, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mary Mitchell was awarded the Kogan for her series of columns on police shootings. Mitchell began to use her column to explore the now famous videotape settlement before the rest of the public was aware of Laquan Macdonald.
Also in this category, two Meritorious Awards were presented. The first of these went to Timothy O’Neill, of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, for his piece “Justice Kennedy Shines Light On Prisons’ Dark Side In Concurrence” on the long term effects of solitary confinement. The columnist told the story of one prisoner’s suicide and asks if solitary drove him to the action.
The second Meritorious Award went to Law Bulletin reporter Lauraann Wood, whose coverage of the Illinois statehouse left no stone unturned in pursuing answers about the pension fight and the legal issues surrounding it. Wood helped her readers understand the Illinois Supreme Court rulings on the issue, the oral arguments before the Court, and the legislature’s reactions in law and policy making.
In the “Print-Feature or Series” category the Kogan Award winner was Roy Strom of Chicago Lawyer Magazine for his expose, “Prosecutor. Police Chief. Perhaps Both.” This remarkable article asked why the LaSalle County State’s Attorney was allowed to set up a team of investigators which formed a de facto secondary police force in the county. The article led to the Illinois Supreme Court hearing a review of the case. It also revealed that money seized by county officials from drug traffickers that is supposed to go to drug addiction treatment organizations was not getting to its appropriate destination. The article caused the State’s Attorney to make a sizable contribution to heroin addiction treatment centers in LaSalle County with the confiscated funds.
In the same category, the Kogan judges voted a Meritorious Award to Tim Novak, the Chicago Sun-Times investigative reporter, for “McPier And Its Attorney, Langdon Neal.” The investigation revealed the corruption that plagues the workings of the McPier Agency, which owns McCormick Place and Navy Pier including how its law firm has profited to the tune of $99 million over the years.
In the “Online” category, the Kogan Award went to Andrew Schroedter of the Better Government Association for his piece “Did Ex-Chicago Detective Frame Multiple Suspects?” The article shines a light on the cases of more than 12 men, almost all Latino, who accused a retired Chicago detective of being a frame up artist.
Also in this category, a Meritorious Award was presented to Robert Herguth and Andrew Schroedter of the Better Government Association, for their piece “Accused Of Raping Intern, Cop Still On Force.” The article suggested that irregularities in the handling of an accusation against a Forest Park officer by an intern create suspicion that the department protected a police officer who should have been investigated rigorously.
About The Herman Kogan Media Awards
The Herman Kogan Media Awards Competition was established in 1989 to honor local journalists and legal affairs reporting. The competition celebrates the career of Herman Kogan, "a true friend of the CBA," whose career spanned more than 50 years and included experience as a reporter, feature and editorial writer, editor, author, historian, biographer, literary critic, radio host and television executive.
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