Former Practicing L.A. Lawyer Robert Greene Awarded Pulitzer Prize for Times Editorials
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Attorney/journalist Robert Greene was awarded a Pulitzer Prize on Friday for a series of editorials in the Los Angeles Times on the subject of criminal justice reform.
“The 62-year-old writer culminated 2020 with a stark assessment of the nation’s substantial shortcomings during a year of plague and brutality, concluding with a clarion call for America to do better,” the newspaper announced on its website.
Sewell Chan, editor of the Times’s editorial pages, termed Greene a “hidden treasure” at the newspaper. Although he has occasionally authored bylined opinion pieces, editorials are, by tradition, unsigned.
(The Times has, however, departed from that long-standing industry tradition with a series of bylined editorials on lessons from the pandemic, with Greene penning the fifth installment in the series, appearing on Friday.)
Chan was quoted by the Times as saying that Greene is “a big reason Los Angeles is at the forefront of debates over how the justice system can become more fair, humane and equitable.”
Reflections on Year
Greene said in a Dec. 30, 2020 editorial, looking back at the year about to end:
“We gazed with sympathy at Italy when it ran out of hospital beds amid the COVID-19 crisis in March, and we wondered at how such an advanced nation could be caught so off-guard. We thanked our lucky stars we weren’t like them—yet here we are. with by far the world’s worst pandemic body count and today, at least in Central and Southern California, the most overcrowded hospital wards and the most virulent transmission rate.
“The crisis weighed Americans’ regard for one another and found it wanting. Would we wear masks to protect one another’s lives? Would we do without restaurant meals, family gatherings, political rallies, worship services, at least to protect our friends and loved ones, if not ourselves? Would we do it to beat back the greatest collective challenge the nation has faced in generations? We would, for a while, and then we would not.
“For all our expertise and resources, 2020 has revealed the stark inequalities, eroded solidarity and sheer selfishness that have long been in the background, the result of decades of attacks on government, on the safety net and on the very idea of a shared American destiny. It presented our nation, our society, our form of government and our collective will with a rigorous stress test. We failed. Miserably.”
Reducing Inmate Populations
In a March 18 editorial, he wrote:
“During this emergency, time is of the essence. Judges and prosecutors should understand the importance of reducing new jail and prison admittances. Sheriffs and wardens should see the wisdom in reducing their inmate populations to only those who need to be there for public safety. If they need statutory authority for releases, lawmakers should act swiftly to grant it.
“And then, when the crisis abates and we have caught our collective breath, we can ask ourselves why we lock up so many suspects, defendants and convicts in the first place, and whether they all need to be behind bars for us to be safe.”
Greene received his law degree from Georgetown in 1984. Friday marked 36 years since his admission to the State Bar of California.
He was an attorney with Lawler, Felix & Hall (now Arter Hadden Lawler Felix & Hall) until turning to journalism, becoming a staff writer for the METNEWS in May 1992, later serving as associate editor. Greene departed in 2003 to become a writer for the Los Angeles Free Press, going to the Times as an editorial writer in February 2006.
Copyright 2021, Metropolitan News Company