Rick Mills, editor of the Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., won the 2014 Opinion Journalism DFMie for his columns challenging court secrecy.
The nomination explains:
Unusual secrecy surrounding a local murder prompted Rick Mills to investigate further and find that the Clare County District Court was ignoring court rules and state Supreme Court guidelines in keeping key documents — affidavits on the evidence leading to arrests — hidden. This case remains troubling. A year later, the defendant has still not faced trial, and the lead investigator just resigned from the Clare County Sheriff’s Department. Something remains amiss.
The nomination included two links:
Rick Mills is the best kind of columnist: not only an opinion writer, but a reporter. His detailed account of his efforts to obtain an affidavit in a murder case — a document that should have been public — takes the reader along as he faces one arrogant and incompetent authority after the other. In the end, he teaches some of these officials the fundamentals of the law, and shows the reader how basic civil rights can hang on the whim of a supposed public servant.
About Rick Mills
Mills and his wife, Laura, have three sons — Zac, 22, Seth, 19, and Carter, 3.
Other finalists in the opinion category were:
- Steve Schoonover, Laura Urseny and David Little of the Chico Enterprise-Record for their editorials and column about reckless spending by the city of Chico.
- Daniel Borenstein of the Bay Area News Group for editorials about child-abuse reporting failures in local school districts.