Sunday, May 15, 2011


"One of the best journalists in the land, one of the great magazine writers in America, is Pamela Colloff of Texas Monthly. She may have written and may yet write better stories than her October 2010 cover story, "Innocence Lost," but she may never write a more important piece or one that had so swift and positive an impact."



PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am pleased to nominate Pamela Colloff for this award which I established in 2009 "to honour authors anywhere in the world who have done outstanding work in exposing a miscarriage of justice involving flawed pathology, flawed pathologists, or a combination of both." As My San Antonio columnist Cary Clack put it in an article headed, "Praising the fourth estate,"Most people fortunate enough to find their way into journalism aren't Don (or Doña) Quixotes intent on a futile career of tilting at windmills. The actual giants dotting landscapes are real problems, real issues and real systems that harm people and their communities. These are the giants who inspire journalists to be knights-errant - people who seek to right wrongs while telling a story accurately and well. One of the best journalists in the land, one of the great magazine writers in America, is Pamela Colloff of Texas Monthly. She may have written and may yet write better stories than her October 2010 cover story, "Innocence Lost," but she may never write a more important piece or one that had so swift and positive an impact. The story is about the outrageous case of Anthony Graves, who in 1994 was convicted and sentenced to die for six horrific murders in the Central Texas town of Somerville. The victims were Bobbie Davis, her teenage daughter and four grandchildren, ages 9, 6, 5 and 4. The only thing that incriminated Graves was the word of the man who was eventually executed for the murders and who, until his death, insisted that he'd lied about Graves' involvement. In 2006 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Graves' conviction, and he was removed from death row. A new trial was scheduled for last February in his hometown of Brenham. To read Colloff's brilliantly reported 14,000 words is to be left with no doubt of Graves' innocence. Brenham's district attorney felt the same way and, within a month of the story's appearance, dropped all charges against Graves. "Innocence Lost" and Colloff`s January 2011 follow-up, "Innocence Found," made Texas Monthly a finalist in the Public Interest category at Monday night's National Magazine Awards. Although The New Yorker won, Colloff's journalism served the public interest by exposing the incompetence and corruption that came perilously close to killing an innocent man and stole 18 years of his life. And no award can compare with winning that man his freedom. Graves, for one, is grateful. Now 46, Graves, whose case became an international cause, is touring overseas talking about what happened to him. "To be the subject of a story that many expect to win an award is humbling but also great because the more my story is recognized, the more people will learn about it and hopefully this way, more and more people will want to know more about the death penalty," he wrote me via email Monday. "I am over here in Europe sharing my story in hopes of educating people about the beast the politicians have unleashed on our society known as the death penalty." Graves has taken a job as a mitigation specialist for the Texas Defender Service and works on death row cases. "I am not bitter," he continues. "I'm focused on helping others and optimistic about achieving success." He calls the woman whose reporting freed him "an extremely gifted journalist. Pamela Colloff is now a wonderful friend. … I think she's simply amazing." Sometimes, the quest to do the impossible isn't just a dream. Sometimes, with pen instead of sword, the knight-errant slays giants of injustice and makes right what was horribly wrong."

Clack's article can be found at:

Previous honourees are:

0: Kevin Morgan (AUSTRALIA): author of "Gun Alley: Murder, Lies and Failure of Justice, who single-handedly fought for and obtained the forensic materials which led to Colin Ross's pardon almost ninety years after he was executed.

0: Michael Hall (U.S.A.): For his excellent work in Texas Monthly exposing the miscarriages of justice that have occurred as a result of scent-lineups and the "experts" who conduct them, and

0: Sun-Sentinel reporter Paula McMahon (U.S.A.) for her ground-breaking reporting over a nine year period which led to the freeing and exoneration of Anthony Caravella.

O: Journalist Stewart Cockburn (AUSTRALIA) for his ground-breaking work in "The Advertiser" which exposed the miscarriage of justice suffered by Ted Splatt and triggered the Royal Commission which led to Splatt's exoneration.

0: Australian scientist Tom Mann (AUSTRALIA) for his sterling efforts to publicize the injustice perpetrated on Ted Splatt in the courts including the publication of "Flawed Forensics: The Ted Splatt case and Stewart Cockburn," a monumental book which demonstrates the tragic consequences which can unfold when science gets twisted out of proportion in the courts and those entrusted with the task of protecting our criminal justice system abdicate their responsibilities.

0: New Yorker staff writer David Grann (U.S.A.)for his awesome exposee of the faulty arson "science" that resulted in the wrongful conviction and execution in Texas of Cameron Todd Willingham. (Photo: David Grann);

I welcome suggestions as to other authors who deserve to be nominated for this award for their work in exposing miscarriages of justice flawed pathology, flawed pathologists, or a combination of both at;


The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be accessed at:

For a breakdown of some of the cases, issues and controversies this Blog is currently following, please turn to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;;