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Miami Herald journalists receive Open Government Reporting award for 'Perversion of Justice'

By Bianca Padró Ocasio, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

MIAMI — The Miami Herald's "Perversion of Justice" investigative series, which detailed Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking crimes and years of deferred justice for dozens of abuse victims, won the 2020 First Amendment Foundation's Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting.

Since the project was first published in November 2018, Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown and visual journalist Emily Michot have gone on to receive multiple awards at the national and local levels for their criminal justice reporting, as they continue to chronicle the repercussions of a deal between Epstein's legal team and former U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

The deal was found to be improper by a federal judge because victims were not consulted.

The journalists will receive the award at the virtual event "Exposing Epstein's Evils: An Evening with Julie K. Brown and Emily Michot," on Wednesday.

The Florida First Amendment Foundation is awarding the journalistic distinction for the third time, in honor of Florida journalists who have relied on public records to expose corruption, crime and injustice. It's named after trailblazing journalist Lucy Morgan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times), who uncovered corruption at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and revealed drug smuggling operations throughout Central Florida.

In 1973, she was sentenced to eight months in jail for refusing to reveal the identity of an anonymous source in court, a decision the Florida Supreme Court later overturned.

Morgan will be presenting the award to Brown and Michot during Wednesday's event.


"The work that Julie and Emily did together to make the Perversion of Justice series is inspiring," said FAF president Pamela Marsh in a statement.

Past winners of the Lucy Morgan Award include the Miami Herald's Carol Marbin Miller and Audra Burch, and Tampa Bay Times reporters Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi.

"Perversion of Justice" was initially a three-part series detailing the deal Epstein received from then South Florida U.S. Attorney Acosta. On July 2019, Epstein was arrested in New York on sex trafficking charges. Six days later, Acosta resigned as President Donald Trump's labor secretary.

And on Aug. 10, 2019, Epstein died by apparent suicide in his Manhattan jail cell.

Brown has previously received two George Polk Awards for Justice Reporting, was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020 and won the Hillman Foundation award for journalism for the common good.

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