ABOTA Awards


Chapter of the Year Award

The Chapter of the Year Award is given to the chapter that exhibits exemplary activity and hard work that furthers the goals of ABOTA.

Elements of a nomination include, but are not limited to:

  •  • Growth in membership
  •  • Pro bono and scholarship contributions
  •   Diversity
  •   Collegiality and camaraderie
  •   Social activities
  •   Collaboration
  •   Community involvement
  •   Professional education
  •   Youth education
  •   Judicial involvement
  •   State involvement
  •   History
  •   Fellows participation

This list is in no particular order, nor does it represent everything a chapter can do to be nominated.


1995            Miami Chapter and Arkansas Chapter
1996            Los Angeles Chapter
1997            Jacksonville Chapter
1998            Arkansas Chapter and San Francisco Chapter
1999            Orange County Chapter
2000            Rochester Chapter
2001            South Carolina Chapter and Michigan Chapter
2002            Illinois Chapter
2003            Tennessee Chapter
2004            Jacksonville Chapter
2005            Northern New Jersey Chapter
2006            South Carolina Chapter and Tampa Bay Chapter
2007            Orange County Chapter and San Bernardino/Riverside Chapter
2008            Washington Chapter
2009            Austin Chapter
2010            Palm Beach Chapter
2011            Tampa Bay Chapter
2012            Arkansas Chapter and Louisiana Chapter
2013            Miami Chapter
2014            Iowa Chapter
2015            Minnesota Chapter
2016            San Francisco Chapter
2017            Dallas Chapter

To submit for the 2018 Chapter of the Year Award, fill out the application and submit by Sept. 4, 2018.


Civil Justice Award

About the Civil Justice Award — Began in 1992 “to recognize and honor the lawyer who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of civil justice.”  Nominations were received from chapters all over the country. The nominees received certificates and the winner a bronze glass trophy.

About the Award — In 1994 nominations were requested, but none were received. It was decided by the Awards Committee at this time to nominate worthy people as Honorary Diplomates instead of giving them the award. The Hon. George Francis (Orange County) and the Hon. Barry Mortimer (Hong Kong) were admitted in 1994.


1992           William R. Wilson (Arkansas Chapter)
1993           Sherman H. Cohn (President of the American Inns of Court)



Thomas Jefferson Award

Awarded to a public servant whose public service and lifetime achievement are perfect examples of the idealism of Thomas Jefferson.


1997                      Senator Howell Heflin (Alabama) *
1998                      Senator Alfons D’Amato (New York)
1999                      Senator Ernest F. Hollings (South Carolina)
2002                      Senator Fred Thompson (Tennessee) *
2006                      U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach *




Lifetime Achievement Award

ABOTA National’s highest award and most distinguished honor.  The Lifetime Achievement Award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to ABOTA. Insight, vision and leadership, as well as continued faithful participation in the organization, is what sets this award apart from all others.


2001            Mark P. Robinson (Los Angeles)*
2002            Honorable William J. Rea (Los Angeles) *
2004            Kermit J. Morgan (Los Angeles) *
2004            Robert D. Barbagelata (San Francisco) *
2009            H. Gilbert Jones (Los Angeles)
2011            Ronald H. Rouda (San Francisco)
2013            Patrick C. Simek (Lubbock)
2015            Gordon S. Rather, Jr. (Arkansas)
2018            Lewis R. Sifford (Dallas)




Media Award

The ABOTA Media Award recognizes and honors media for their fair and accurate reporting that supports the jury system as guaranteed by the Founding Fathers in the Bill of Rights.


Print:                   Steve Cohen, New York Magazine
Television:          Stephen Brill, Court TV, New York

Print:                   Lorna Thackery, The Billings Gazette, Montana
Television:          Jackie Conway-Pratt, KABC “City View,” Los Angeles
Julie Hasquet, KTUU, Anchorage, Alaska

Print:                  Lorna Thackery, The Billings Gazette, Montana
Mike Kataoka, The Press-Enterprise, California
Dan Herbeck, The Buffalo News, New York
Television:          Richard Hyde, WAGA, Atlanta, Georgia

Print:                  Coleman McCarthy, Washington Post
Howell Raines, New York Times

Print:                  Herb Denenberg, The Reading Eagle
Barbara Henry, Des Moines Register, Iowa

Print:                  Myron Levin, Los Angeles Times

Print:                  Mary Fricker, The Press Democrat, California

Print:                 Garry Abrams, Los Angeles Daily Journal
                          Prof. Daniel J. Capra, Fordham University School of Law

Print:                Reynolds Holding, San Francisco Chronicle

Documentary:  Susan Saladoff, Hot Coffee



Courageous Advocacy Award

ABOTA bestows this award periodically to a judge or advocate anytime in the world who has demonstrated courage in the performance of duty and a strict adherence to the rule of law, even at great risk to personal freedom and safety.


1999                                              Florence, Italy
A collective award to 24 lawyers and judges who gave their lives in the pursuit of justice under the law.

2003                                              Belfast, Northern Ireland
In memory of 13 judges, barristers and solicitors who were maimed or murdered while showing extraordinary courage and unwavering commitment to the rule of law during the political and social unrest.

2007                                              Gao Zhisheng, China
Courageous attempts to gain redress from Chinese government officials and the courts led to the loss of his practice and house arrest.

2015                                              Morris S. Dees, Jr., Alabama
His efforts to form the Southern Poverty Law Center have had far-reaching effects.  He spent his career protecting society’s most vulnerable and saw first-hand in the South that racial equality did not exist.  Now, decades later, the SPLC continues to be a vital opponent against those who promote hatred and intolerance.




George Wythe Award

The George Wythe Award is presented for distinguished and exceptional instruction in Constitutional law furthering the right to trial by jury. George Wythe’s contributions to law, the framing of the federal Constitution, and to education render him an exceptional namesake for this award dedicated to Constitutional law educators. Wythe was a professor, a legal mentor and a patriot. Wythe was a noted scholar, respected lawyer, and mentor to the likes of Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall. Wythe was the nation’s first college law professor and the first Virginia signer of the Declaration of Independence.

George Wythe (1726-1806)

  • Nation’s first college law professor
  • Thomas Jefferson’s legal mentor
  • Law students included Thomas Jefferson and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall
  • First Virginia signer of the Declaration of Independence
  • Framer of the U.S. Constitution
  • Helped to create Virginia’s new constitution and also sat on the committee to design Virginia's seal.
  • Professor of law and policy at the College of William and Mary



2017                         Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Professor Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law



ABOTA Diversity & Inclusion Award

ABOTA is committed to encouraging and promoting diversity in the legal profession and in ABOTA.  ABOTA desires to honor an individuals or chapters that as change agents have demonstrated a commitment to diversity in the legal profession and in ABOTA. The honoree may have worked to ensure diversity in a local chapter or a national level in ABOTA.


2016                            Edward J. Nevin (San Francisco)








ABOTA Foundation Awards


ABOTA Foundation Masters in Trial Award / ABOTA Foundation Professional Education Award

Description:   This award is given to an individual or entity who has through their contributions and efforts demonstrated commitment to the Professional Education programs of the ABOTA Foundation.

Criteria:  Nominees may demonstrate their commitment to the ABOTA Foundation Professional Education Programs in various ways.  Among the contributions to be considered are: 

  1. Impact: Number of Masters in Trial programs in which the nominee has participated; Major contributions to planning a special program such as Trial College coordinators, a particularly difficult Masters in Trial or a special project; extraordinary efforts to make an education program a success, such as marketing the program.  
  2. Innovation: Contribution of new content such as new case studies, new materials for Civility Matters, new programs or advances in technology or formats. 
  3.  Work that promotes diversity in professional education programs.


Masters in Trial Award

1992                       Don C. Keenan (Georgia)
1993                       Reece Williams (South Carolina)
1994                       Gordon S. Rather, Jr. (Arkansas)
1995                       Clarence L. King, Jr. (Kansas) *
1996                       Lisa A. Blue (Texas)
                               John L. Holcomb (Florida)
Stuart Z. Grossman (Florida)
1997                       Lewis R. Sifford (Texas)
1998                       Robert S. Baker (California)
1999                       Larry D. Ottaway (Oklahoma)
2001                       John V. Phelps (Arkansas)
2002                       Grady F. Tollison (Mississippi)
2003                       Joseph P. Milton (Florida) *
2005                       Craig Lewis (Houston)
2006                       Michael T. Callahan (Tampa Bay)
2008                       Edward J. Nevin (San Francisco)
2009                       Joel W. Collins, Jr. (South Carolina)
2010                       Timothy D. Blue (Washington)
                               Cynthia McGuinn (San Francisco)
                               Gerald F. Richman (Palm Beach)
2011                       Thomas H. Fain (Washington)
2012                       William H. Ginsburg (Los Angeles) *
2013                       Steven W. Quattlebaum (Arkansas)
2014                       Christina M. Habas (Colorado)
2015                       Peter W. Riley (Minnesota)
2016                       Jesse M. Rivera (Sacramento Valley)

(Renamed the Professional Education Award in 2017)

2017                        To be announced…




ABOTA Foundation Mark P. Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award

The Foundation's highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award was created in honor of ABOTA's founding father and first President, Mark P. Robinson of Los Angeles. It is given in recognition of a lifetime of dedicated service to ABOTA, leadership of the legal profession and preservation of the right to trial by jury guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

2009                      Gordon S. Rather, Jr. (Arkansas)
2012                      Lewis R. Sifford (Dallas)



ABOTA Foundation Civics Education Award

Description: This award is given to an individual or entity that has through their contributions and efforts demonstrated commitment to the Civics Education programs of the ABOTA Foundation. 

Criteria: Nominees may demonstrate their commitment to the ABOTA Foundation Civics Education programs in various ways. Among the contributions to be considered are:

  1. Involvement and Impact: number of civics education programs in which the nominee has been involved, and the nominee’s efforts to engage others in programs. 
  2. Innovation: providing new models/curriculum for civics education programs, Teachers Law Schools (TLS), and James Otis Lectures (JOL).
  3. Community Outreach: Establishing relationships and engaging with other like-minded organizations. 
  4. Diversity: actions, which promote ABOTA values of inclusion and reaching diverse audiences. 


2017                          Christopher A. Duggan (Massachusetts)
                                  David G. Halpern (Austin)



ABOTA Foundation Founders Award

Description: This award is inspired by three individuals whose leadership was key to forming the ABOTA Foundation:  Don Keenan, Joe Milton, and Reece Williams.  It is awarded to an individual who, like these Founders, has shown exceptional vision and commitment to furthering the goals of the ABOTA Foundation. 

Eligibility:  Past or present trustees of the Foundation and past or present National ABOTA officers are not eligible for this award.


  • Efforts in support of the work of the Foundation. 
  • Participation in Foundation programs. 
  • Creation of new Foundation programs. 
  • Participation in Foundation fundraising efforts, but not specifically the nominee’s personal contributions
  • Demonstrated commitment to the goals and projects of ABOTA. 

The Founders’ Award is in recognition of and inspired by the extraordinary achievements of Don C. Keenan, Reece Williams and Joseph P. Milton in creating the present-day Foundation and for exhibiting the qualities of vision, creativity, energy and charity for the betterment of the mission of the Foundation.


2017            Brian L. Lauten (Dallas) and Marquette Wolf (Dallas)