ASBPE Announces 2005 Stephen Barr Award Winner – John Gibeaut

Photo: John Gibeaut

John Gibeaut, a senior reporter with the ABA Journal, joined the staff of the Chicago-based magazine in 1996. He previously reported in Florida for The Tampa Tribune and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and began his career at Chicago’s City News Bureau. A 1981 graduate in journalism and French from Ohio State University, John also holds a J.D. degree with honors from the Florida State University College of Law.

The two articles cited by the Stephen Barr judges, each included in the ABA Journal’s Government Coverage entry, vividly detail how state budget cuts have devastated the work of prosecutors in the trenches and illustrate the negative impact of certain harsh sentencing laws. The second piece contrasts the tale of a housewife, hit with a 20-year sentence for arranging petty cocaine deals to feed her own habit, and the story of the Michigan ex-governor who had signed the mandatory drug sentences into law, then later campaigned for their repeal.

The judges were impressed not only with their clarity, but with the writer’s success in “using characters to bring the stories to life without losing sight of the larger context.” One judge noted that “these pieces could easily have been longer,” congratulating John for his judicious brevity.

John has won numerous awards while at the ABA Journal, including national ASBPE awards in 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2003 for articles on topics ranging form tobacco litigation to punitive damages to the use of intoxication as a legal defense.

Read John Gibeaut’s winning articles:

  • The Good Fight Gets Harder
    As Legislatures Cut Prosecutors’ Budgets to the Bone, Caseloads Are Backing Up, and Fewer Young Attorneys Are Choosing to Stay
  • Opening Sentences
    While the Feeney Amendment’s Tightening of Federal Guidelines Has Judges Steaming, States Are Moving to Loosen Up Strict Regimens

About the Stephen Barr Award

The Stephen Barr Award is named for one of the ASBPE’s most-honored journalists, who died of cancer in 2002 at the age of 43. Unlike other ASBPE awards, it honors individual writing from among the best entries in all editorial feature categories, especially work that reflects the qualities of inventiveness, insight, balance, depth of investigation, and impact on readers. A check for $500 accompanies the award.