The California Press Foundation honored FAC’s outgoing executive director Peter Scheer of the First Amendment Coalition with its Jack Bates Award on Dec. 1, 2016, at the 139th Annual Cal Press Winter Meeting at the Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel in San Francisco.
Scheer has been the executive director of the First Amendment Coalition since 2004. Before joining FAC, Scheer was editor and publisher of The Recorder, a daily legal newspaper in San Francisco; publisher of Legal Times, a Washington, D.C.-based weekly on law and lobbying; and CEO of callaw.com and law.com.
Scheer practiced appellate law in Washington, D.C., both in the U.S. Justice Department and in private practice. He was a partner in the Washington, D.C., firm of Onek, Klein & Farr, and was general counsel to the National Security Archive. He has argued appellate cases in most of the federal courts of appeal and in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Scheer is a recipient of the Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award and the James Madison Freedom of Information Award. Scheer’s articles on First Amendment issues and related issues have appeared in numerous publications, both print and online, including The Sacramento Bee, Slate.com, Huffington Post, San Jose Mercury News, Salon.com, Orange County Register, San Francisco Chronicle, The San Diego Union-Tribune and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.
As the executive director of FAC, Scheer is credited with maintaining the defense of “the people’s right to know” while taking the organization in new directions. These included legal cases involving public access to government data; an initiative to use the World Trade Organization to challenge China’s censorship of the internet as a violation of international trade rules; litigation against CalPERS resulting in increased disclosure of fees paid to venture capital and other alternative investment firms; and multiple legal actions to enforce Proposition 59.
Scheer is stepping down as FAC executive director effective Dec. 31, 2016. His successor as executive director is David Snyder, a First Amendment lawyer and former journalist.
The Jack Bates Award is named after its first recipient and CNPA’s legendary former executive director, the award represents effective leadership in addressing newspaper challenges.