Today the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) announced that it has selected the Council for Court Excellence to receive the 2017 G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation. The Munsterman Award recognizes states, local courts, organizations, or individuals that have made significant improvements or innovations in jury procedures, operations, and practices. The award is named for the founder and former director of NCSC’s Center for Jury Studies and an internationally renowned innovator in jury systems and research.
CCE’s work on jury system improvements spans the organization’s 35 years, beginning with advocacy for one-day-or-one-trial jury service in D.C. Superior Court, which was adopted in 1986. In 1990, CCE organized the first Jury Service Appreciation program with the local and federal courts in the District of Columbia. In 1995, CCE established the D.C. Jury Project and within a few years published Juries for the Year 2000 and Beyond: Proposals to Improve the Jury System in Washington, D.C. The comprehensive research report had 32 specific recommendations that were transformative to the jury system in D.C. and a driver of change for courts around the country.
In 2015, CCE published Jury Service Revisited: Upgrades for the 21st Century, a comprehensive study of the jury systems in D.C.’s local and federal courts that proposes several reforms to strengthen the institution of the jury. The report was prepared by a 40-member committee of prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, plaintiff and defense civil attorneys, and former D.C. jurors. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Irvin B. Nathan, then D.C. attorney general, co-chaired the committee. CCE continues to work to have the reforms implemented. CCE has done a significant amount of other work to improve jury service.
“For more than three decades, CCE has been a leader in the development and implementation of jury system innovations that have helped the courts in D.C. have some of the best jury systems in the country,” said Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of NCSC’s Center for Jury Studies. “Although their work has primarily been confined to the jury system in a small geographical area, the impact of their work has been influential nationally and abroad as other jurisdictions have been influenced by their successes to incorporate jury innovations into their own systems.”
Mr. Nathan, now CCE’s president, expressed his appreciation for the award. “I am delighted and very grateful that NCSC has honored CCE with this prestigious award.” He added, “Tom Munsterman has been an incredible colleague over the years, having collaborated with CCE on some of our jury projects.”
NCSC will present the award to CCE at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on November 16.