News wins award for coverage of rapist custody dispute

The Detroit News

Lansing — Detroit News staff writer Mike Martindale has won a statewide award for his coverage of a court ruling that granted a twice-convicted rapist partial custody of a child conceived during his sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl.

Martindale will receive a Wade H. McCree Award for Advancement of Justice for a series of stories on the Sanilac County ruling in October and November.

The decision by Judge Gregory S. Ross, which he subsequently rescinded, sparked a firestorm of criticism and led the judge and county Prosecutor James V. Young to pledge to review procedures to avoid a similar situation from occurring again. Young also apologized for how the case was handled.

In a news release, the Michigan Press Association Foundation, which sponsors the awards, said: “Martindale’s work shed important light on how public agencies and the court system work — and sometimes don’t — for the public they are supposed to serve.”

WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) and the Detroit Free Press also are receiving awards.

The McCree awards honor journalism that promotes public understanding of the legal and judicial systems. The awards will be presented Sunday during the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame induction dinner at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

The awards are named for the late Wade McCree Jr., who advocated for the press’ role in a free society as a federal judge, law professor and U.S. solicitor general.