James Chadwick, an attorney who has made a career of successfully representing California newspapers seeking to wrest information from tight-fisted government agencies, is this year’s Jack Bates Award honoree.
The award, named for the late Jack Bates, CNPA’s executive director for two decades, honors an individual for distinguished service to the California press. This individual has demonstrated effective leadership in addressing newspaper challenges and assisting journalism education. Honorees show that the best leadership for future newspapers comes from those who understand and appreciate how to take the best of the past and invest it going forward.
When several law enforcement agencies went to court last December attempting to get an order to withhold information about past police misconduct that was required to be disclosed by CNPA’s landmark legislation, SB 1421, Chadwick and his firm, Sheppard Mullin, sprang into action.
Chadwick, on behalf of several newspapers and the First Amendment Coalition, filed legal challenges to law enforcement’s efforts to thwart SB 1421 up and down the state. In every instance, he convinced the court that the information should be disclosed.
He was also one of the principal drafters of Prop. 59, which made the public’s right to know a fundamental Constitutional right in California.
Chadwick has served many years on the FAC Board of Directors, including a term as the group’s president. He will receive the award this Thursday evening at the Cal Press Winter Meeting in San Francisco.