Rick Mills wins Opinion Journalism DFMie for fighting court secrecy

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:

Clare court ignores rules, keeps key murder file secret

Clare courts follow the rules, seal documents

Judges’ comments:

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

Rick Mills2Mills is editor of the Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and has been with the Morning Sun since 1991.

Mills and his wife, Laura, have three sons — Zac, 22, Seth, 19, and Carter, 3.

Other finalists

Other finalists in the opinion category were:

Barbara Lombardo, editor of the Saratogian, won the 2013 Opinion Journalism DFMie.

Steve Buttry

By Steve Buttry

Steve Buttry is Digital Transformation Editor for Digital First Media. He oversees our efforts to transform newsroom operations and culture to more effectively pursue our digital goals. His duties include responsibility for social media and community engagement. He has visited most DFM newsrooms personally, leading workshops and coaching editors and other journalists in following the Digital First approach.

Leave a Reply