The two, who currently work for the Richmond County Daily Journal in Rockingham, N.C., won seven from the North Carolina Press Association’s 2015 Editorial Contest and picked up three honorable-mention certificates in the N.C. Associated Press’ 2016 News Excellence Contest.
From the Daily Journal article:
Reporter William R. Toler received the North Carolina Bar Association’s 2015 Media and the Law Award of Excellence for a daily newspaper article, which recognizes “insightful coverage of law-related topics that foster greater public understanding of the legal system and the role of lawyers in today’s society.”
Toler’s award-winning story chronicled murder convict Derrick McRae’s appeal for a new trial in the 1995 killing of Jerry Rankin. Attorneys with Duke University’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic volunteered to represent McRae, arguing there was no physical evidence to link him to the crime and that the defendant had an alibi.
Superior Court Judge W. David Lee denied McRae’s motion for appropriate relief in the case last February, ruling there wasn’t enough evidence to throw out the 1998 conviction. Duke attorneys said they would continue to push for a retrial in the case.
Attorneys on the N.C. Bar Association’s communications committee judged the open-division contest. Toler competed against all daily newspapers in the state for the single-story award.