Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition awarded The First Amendment Coalition Free Speech & Open Government Award to Monterey County Weekly last Thursday, December 2. The award, which comes with a $1,000 cash prize, recognizes an individual or institution whose actions deserve public honor and emulation for their advancement of government transparency and exemplary work in the arena of open government.
Editor Mary Duan and Assistant Editor, Sara Rubin authored the investigative report, a result of a three-and-one-half year effort by Monterey County Weekly to unearth (and unseal) public records, conduct interviews and produce an ambitious series outlining the story behind the story of a sexual abuse case involving Father Edward Fitz-Henry and the Diocese of Monterey. At the Dioceseâ€™s urging, the lower court originally sealed court documents. After an extensive legal battle to reverse this decision, the state Court of Appeal unanimously ruled in the Weeklyâ€™s favor.
Duan, Rubin, plus Weekly Founder & CEO Bradley Zeve, Publisher Erik Cushman, and attorney Roger Myers of Bryan Cave, who led the successful legal battle at both the Superior Court level and to the California Court of Appeal, all attended the ceremony.
On the plaque, it reads as follows: “For its year-long effort led by Editor Mary Duan and [Assistant Editor] Sara Rubin to uncover the story behind the story of a sexual abuse case involving Father Edward Fitz-Henry and the Monterey Diocese. The paper reviewed nearly 1,350 pages of documents, conducted numerous sensitive interviews and waged a successful legal battle to unseal court records. The 10,000 word series by Duan and Rubin resulted in an unusually transparent dissection of the case, describing not only the details but exploring the human aspects of the subjects.â€