AUSTIN – First Amendment attorney Laura Lee Prather, a champion of free speech and government transparency, is the recipient of the 2018 James Madison Award presented by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
The award honors those who demonstrate outstanding commitment to upholding the principles of the First Amendment and open government.
Prather will receive the award Sept. 21 at the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon during the foundation’s Bernard and Audre Rapoport State Conference in Austin.
“Laura is fearless and tireless in championing open government. No one in Texas has done more for the cause than her during the past decade,” said Chris Cobler, editor and publisher of the Victoria Advocate and president of the FOI Foundation of Texas.
Prather, a board member and past president of the FOI Foundation, is a partner in the litigation section at Haynes and Boone, LLP in Austin.
Her practice includes First Amendment, intellectual property and media/entertainment litigation and appeals.
As an advocate at the Texas Legislature for free speech and open government, Prather led the drafting and negotiations for the Texas reporters’ privilege law, the anti-SLAPP statute and the Defamation Mitigation Act. She also formed coalitions in support of those measures.
Fellow advocates for free speech and press rights have described Prather as “a fierce and effective defender” of the First Amendment and government transparency.
“I am humbled and honored to receive this prestigious award from an organization whose purpose is to help all Texans have access to information about what their government is doing,” Prather said. “I am proud to fight for an open, honest and transparent government because that is what restores and keeps public confidence in the integrity of our government and its officials.”
“Spreading a little ‘Texas sunshine’ at all levels of government is a wonderful thing,” she added.
In her legal work, Prather advises online and traditional newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, production companies and music and sports entities. She is board certified in civil appellate law and is recognized by Chambers Nationwide for First Amendment litigation.
Since 1987, the FOI Foundation’s James Madison Award has honored journalists, attorneys, elected officials and vigilant citizens who protect the First Amendment and the public’s right to know. A complete list of past award recipients can be found at www.foift.org.
“Texas: Let the Sun Shine” is the theme for the 2018 Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas state conference set Friday, Sept. 21, in Austin.
Comptroller Glenn Hegar will be the keynote luncheon speaker, addressing initiatives his office is overseeing to encourage all governmental entities to make their financial records publicly accessible.
The one-day conference will also feature panel discussions on college campus free speech, news reporting on difficult issues and the newly formed Sunshine Coalition.