Scott Dolan stares down a judge, walks away with victory for journalism

Scott Dolan, the Portland Press Herald court reporter who won the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition’s Sunshine Award Tuesday, has guts of steel.

Dolan won the prestigious award for standing and challenging a judge in open court on January 6 when the judge said reporters couldn’t report on parts of a trial. Dolan wrote the story anyway and after two days of uproar, Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz apologized.

Judges aren’t used to being challenged. Standing up to one in open court is, in that moment, a risk with unclear consequences (not that I’ve ever done it). Could Dolan have gone to jail? He wrote in a February 5 column for the New England First Amendment Coalition that he had a friend watch his dogs, just in case.

Scott Dolan is not only a borne-on-convictions, tough-as-nails, judge-challenging First Amendment defender. He is also, apparently, a very responsible pet owner.

“After 16 years in the daily newspaper business, many of them as a reporter covering courts, I’ve never heard a judge issue an order like the one Moskowitz issued,” wrote Dolan.

Thanks to you, sir, it will be a long time before it happens again.

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.