Longtime Hot Type columnist and News Bites blogger Michael Miner took home a well-deserved award Friday night. The honor, conferred by the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, is for The Greater of Two Evils, a piece on Alton Logan, who was released from prison ten days ago after being declared innocent of the murder of a security guard.
Miner’s piece on the lawyers who knew he was innocent but kept it to themselves came in the category of “best news column or commentary” in the “nondaily newspaper, magazine or newspaper magazine section” division.
Often referred to in shorthand as a “media critic,” Miner has the style required by that job description, but his readers also know that his distinguished reporting goes far beyond it.
Here’s an excerpt of Miner’s own recent post on Logan’s release:
Logan’s innocence was a secret kept by two of [Andrew] Wilson’s attorneys until Wilson died last year. Wilson had admitted to them that he was actually the gunman who’d shot down a McDonald’s security guard during a robbery on South Halsted on January 11, 1982 — the crime for which Logan was tried and convicted. But while Wilson lived, those attorneys believed the attorney-client privilege bound them to silence. They did no more than sign and set aside in a metal box a notorized affadavit that declared they’d “obtained information through privileged sources” that Logan was innocent.
In November of 2007 the attorneys, Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz, found out from reading a Reader cover story by John Conroy that Wilson had recently died. They unlocked the metal box and announced the affadavit to the world. Weeks later Logan was freed.
Wilson’s original accusations, of course, opened a Pandora’s box, leading to accusations of mistreatment by more than a hundred other prisoners against Burge and detectives under his jurisdiction, to overturned convictions and multimillion-dollar lawsuits filed against the city, to Burge’s dismissal from the force (though on full pension), to an admission by the city that torture occurred, to a four-year investigation by a special prosecutor, and — at long last — to a federal indictment last October accusing Burge of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Congratulations are due as well to Reader alum John Conroy, whose story on Logan for Chicago Public Radio (with Ben Calhoun and Cate Cahan) won the Lisagor for “best public affairs reporting” on the radio.
Here’s where the Chicago Headline Club lists the rest of this year’s winners.