David J. Bodney, leader of Ballard Spahr's Media and Entertainment Law Group, will receive the firm's Alan J. Davis Award for exemplary public service for his pro bono efforts supporting a free and vigorous press and First Amendment rights. The award includes $25,000, which Mr. Bodney has announced he will donate to National Public Radio (NPR), earmarked for the David Gilkey and Zabi Tamanna Memorial Fund. The fund, established in memory of two NPR journalists killed last June, supports the work of international journalists and photojournalists, security and safety measures, and training for the next generation of war correspondents.

At NPR's request, Mr. Bodney last year teamed with veteran journalist Andrew Alexander, a former Washington Post ombudsman, to perform an independent operational review of the reporting assignment on which Messrs. Gilkey and Tamanna were killed in Afghanistan. This independent review for NPR is part of Mr. Bodney's more than 35-year track record as pro bono counsel in a wide range of public interest issues.

Firm Chair Mark Stewart will present the Davis Award to Mr. Bodney at a ceremony at the firm's Washington, D.C., office, on Monday, June 5—one year since the deaths of Mr. Gilkey, an NPR photojournalist, and Mr. Tamanna, NPR's Afghan interpreter and also a journalist. They were reporting on the conflict with Taliban insurgents and traveling with an Afghan army unit when the army vehicle was ambushed by heavy weapons fire. They are the only NPR journalists killed in the field in the network's 45-year history.

"These journalists believed in the critical importance of bringing news to the public, and they sacrificed their lives for it," Mr. Bodney said. "We honor their memory when we stand for a free and robust press. That has never been more important than today. We are proud to support NPR's dedication to an informed citizenry and international newsgathering efforts, especially through the David Gilkey and Zabi Tamanna Memorial Fund."

NPR gave Messrs. Bodney and Alexander unrestricted access to information and personnel to facilitate their review of the fatal event. The report they authored found no causal link between NPR's security protocols and the deaths of Messrs. Gilkey and Tamanna, but offered recommendations to reduce the risks of reporting in war and other hostile environments in years to come.

Pro bono has been a staple of Mr. Bodney's practice during his entire career. With encyclopedic knowledge of media laws, rights, and practices, and decades of experience representing journalists who fight to inform the public, Mr. Bodney has established himself as a prominent authority on the First Amendment and is regularly asked to provide pro bono counsel on media issues. His recent projects have included working with Yale Law School’s Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic on behalf of several media organizations in a federal lawsuit to secure greater transparency in Arizona’s lethal execution process; filing freedom-of-information requests for a civil rights organization to obtain border patrol records on the ban on travel from seven countries earlier this year; representing a prison newspaper that was embargoed after it reported lawsuits alleging correctional officer abuse; and preparing amicus briefs in a Peruvian appellate court case about the media’s right to investigate mining industry participation in the drafting of government regulations.

Ballard Spahr presents the Davis Award each year, with the $25,000 prize. In addition to the Davis Award, the firm recognized other outstanding pro bono work at its Annual Meeting. This year, the honorees included:

International Refugee Assistance Program – When Iraqis and Afghanis who assisted the U.S. military found themselves in danger in their native countries, Congress created a special immigrant visa program to help them resettle in the United States. Ballard Spahr attorneys have represented 12 immigrants and their families applying for visas. To date, three clients have successfully obtained visas and relocated. The team includes: Carl G. Roberts, Christopher T. Cognato, Sana M. Din, Carol A. DiPrinzio, Grant H. Dowd, Mark A. Hikin, Heather Klein, and Philip N. Yannella.

Support for Inclusive Recreation – The firm has a history of supporting nonprofit organizations that provide inclusive sports opportunities.

Since 2005, our Salt Lake City Office Managing Partner Mark R. Gaylord has coordinated our representation of the National Ability Center, which provides inclusive sport, recreation and educational programs to people with disabilities ranging from visual and hearing impairments to cognitive and developmental disabilities.

In Colorado, Alicia B. Clark and Carolyn A. Marfitano represent Assisted Cycling Tours, which offers cycling trips for people with disabilities and their families. Our lawyers have assisted with governance and real estate matters and now are helping the nonprofit open a bike shop and service center, which would generate revenue for the tours and provide job training for disabled individuals. 

Shannon D. Farmer and Katherine J. Atkinson are helping USA Deaf Soccer Association to navigate governance and funding issues. 

USPTO Patent Pro Bono Program – With the passage of the America Invents Act, Congress directed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to establish a pro bono program to assist solo inventors and small businesses with the filing of patents. Since its launch in 2013, Ballard Spahr lawyers have accepted more than 30 clients in Atlanta and Philadelphia under this program.

U.S. Women's Hockey Gender Equity Team – The U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team made history with the help of a team of Ballard Spahr lawyers who negotiated a labor contract with its national governing body, USA Hockey, that provides fair pay and equitable support for women's and girls' programs nationwide. Ballard's team included Dee Spagnuolo, Ashley Wilson, John B. Langel, Mary Cate Gordon, Kimberly D. Magrini, Robin Ireland, and Joan Heider.

The firm has a longstanding commitment to providing pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations in need. As a signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, established by the American Bar Association and administered by the Pro Bono Institute, Ballard Spahr has annually met its commitment to donate at least three percent of billable hours to pro bono service—more than 40,000 hours each year, across the spectrum of issues and causes. The firm works with bar associations and pro bono referral agencies and also partners with in-house counsel at client companies to provide pro bono services.

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