President's Report for September 2010



Sept. 15, 2010

The President's Report,
ABOTA's official newsletter, is now an electronic publication that is e-mailed to members.



Delta Airlines welcomes ABOTA to SkyBonus!


Every time you choose Delta Air Lines ®, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, or our alliance partners to any destination worldwide, ABOTA earns points that can be redeemed for a variety of valuable travel rewards.
And SkyBonus rewards aren't the only benefit you'll enjoy. You will also accrue SkyMiles every time you fly.

Delta Air Lines
(800) 210-9789

Simply enter the
ABOTA SkyBonus ID:


ABOTA's other travel partners include:

American Airlines
Business ExtrAA No.: 778563

Continental Airlines
Send your Continental OnePass account number to the ABOTA National Office at
 (800) 93-ABOTA




Chief Justice Moon retires after 17 years


for his contributions to judiciary

Hawaii Chief Justice Ronald T.Y.  Moon - a longtime ABOTA Board Representative - has been named the recipient of the National Center for State Court's Harry  L. Carrico Award for Judicial Innovation. The award honors a state chief justice who has  inspired, sponsored, promoted, or led an  innovation or accomplishment of national  significance in the field of judicial  administration.

Chief Justice Moon was recognized  for improving public trust and confidence in the  justice system, preserving judicial independence,  and emphasizing the importance of judicial  education. His work serves as a model for judges across the country, said NCSC President Mary C.  McQueen.

Chief Justice Moon recently retired after serving as head of the Supreme Court of  Hawaii for 17 years.



Elevation in Rank

The fee for elevation in rank from one level to the next higher level is only $100. To download the ABOTA Elevation in Rank form, click here.

Should you have any questions about the process, contact James Fairfield at or call (800) 93 ABOTA (932-2682).




Craig Lewis


Harry T. Widmann

Vice President

Robert N. Stone


Mark P. Robinson Jr.


F. Dulin Kelly


Editorial Board
John M. Bickel, Co-Chair
Jack Wurgaft, Co-Chair
Christopher J. Day
Jan M. Gunderson
David Grant Halpern
Jay Harris
James M. Hartman
Steven J. Kirsch
Bruce R. Pfaff
Donald R. Shultz
Grady F. Tollison
Harry T. Widmann
Lish Whitson

Executive Director

Brian W. Tyson


Being an ABOTA member has never been more exciting

By Craig Lewis
2010 National President

What an exciting time to be a member of ABOTA! During a break in a recent deposition, the defendant asked me: "What exactly is ABOTA? Are you just a social organization of attorneys, or do you actually do something?" Over the next 10 to 15 minutes, I could tell he was genuinely impressed with what we do and what we stand for!


Here's a snapshot of what we covered:

- He learned that we have just recently completed our week-long ABOTA Trial College on the campus of Princeton University where 35 young men and women fine-tuned their trial and advocacy skills through the teaching and assistance of some of the finest trial lawyers.

- He learned that for many years, ABOTA has been sponsoring and providing lawyer-teachers to the National Trial Academy held annually in Reno, Nevada, and sponsored by ABOTA and the TIPS section of the ABA.

- He learned that, in partnership with Scholastic - the nation's largest provider of educational curriculum material - the ABOTA Foundation's Justice By The People curriculum and lesson plans have the capability of reaching 30-50 million students and their families - providing an opportunity to not only learn about the importance of jury trials, but also to participate, as counsel, in an interactive DVD where the students actually try a case.

- He learned that ABOTA has created a Teacher's Law School, where teachers learn about many of the pragmatic legal issues with which they are faced on a daily basis in the classroom.

- He learned that ABOTA is a founding sponsor of the Journalist Law School where journalists from throughout the nation come together annually to become better educated and more knowledgeable about the civil trials they cover through print, television and radio.

- He learned that ABOTA has created a DVD based on our Code of Professionalism, aptly called "Civility Matters," which is being provided to all law schools and courtrooms nationwide.

- He learned that in connection with Constitution Day, ABOTA Chapters have created the James Otis Lecture Series, held in the state houses in Massachusetts, California, Florida, South Carolina, and Washington -- a lecture series recognizing deserving high school students who have written outstanding essays on the subject matter of the United States Constitution. He learned that the James Otis Lecture Series will further expand to other Chapters, nationwide, in the coming years.

- He learned that ABOTA is vigilant in going to the defense of the judiciary when they are unjustly accused of wrongdoing, and in assisting the judiciary in fiscal matters, especially when the fiscal matters begin to infringe on the right to trial by jury.

- He learned that ABOTA trial lawyers put on more than two dozen professional education demonstrations on an annual basis, where a case is actually tried and the jury deliberations are monitored by the participants and the audience.

- He learned that ABOTA has partnered with the National Center For State Courts in leading the fight to preserve and improve our jury system. He also learned that we have sponsored many student academic competitions, nationwide where students are demonstrating excellence in subject matters of the United States Constitution and the preservation of the Seventh Amendment.



I had to cut short the answer to his question, as our break-time was over -- and many of you know that the activities and projects listed above are only a fraction of the ABOTA projects and activities that are going on throughout our 94 Chapters nationwide.


The roll out of the ABOTA DVD has been a hit
Earlier this year, we created a DVD that highlights many of ABOTA's activities and projects. A copy of that DVD, which runs approximately 10 minutes, has been sent to every Chapter, and if you ever want to be proud of what ABOTA is doing and excited about ABOTA's future and where ABOTA is headed, please take time to show this DVD at your next Chapter meeting. Or take a look at it on the ABOTA website,


ABOTA to demonstrate jury trial in Seoul and Tokyo
This fall, more than a dozen ABOTA members will travel to Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, Japan, to work with leaders and lawyers in those two countries as they embark on their respective endeavors to incorporate jury trials into their judicial system. As you know, this will not be the first time that ABOTA has provided assistance to other countries with respect to their judicial system. In the past 15 years, countries such as Portugal, Latvia, Ireland, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Hungary have looked to ABOTA -- and ABOTA has responded.


ABOTA thrives when its members are active
Let me encourage you to become more active in ABOTA's projects and activities. You do not need to be a National Board member to attend any of our National Board meetings.

This year we met in Indian Wells, California and Kiawah Island, South Carolina. And our upcoming National Board meeting will be held in Houston, Texas, Oct. 8-9. Many of us recently returned from our international meeting held this year in Norway, a Scandinavian Cruise on the Baltic Sea, and a post-trip to Moscow, Russia.

When I first became an ABOTA member, many people told me:  "Craig, you have to go on an ABOTA trip - there's nothing like it:  the fun, the camaraderie, the people, the friendships - you just gotta do it!" And they were right! Over the years, I have encouraged others, and during this past international trip, it was quite gratifying to have many people come up to me and say: "This is our first ABOTA trip. It is better than we ever imagined, and we'll be back for many more!"

Our National Board meetings next year will be held in New Orleans, Chicago, and Phoenix. Our international meeting will be held in Bali, Bangkok, and Cambodia. Please join us. You'll never regret it!


YES, you can be proud to have been recognized as an ABOTA trial lawyer. YES, you can be proud of what ABOTA is doing, and will continue to do. 

And you can equally be proud and excited that THE BEST IS YET TO COME!




2011 National Vice President election results announced


Mick Callahan of the Tampa Bay Chapter was elected by the general membership to be the 2011 Vice President of ABOTA. Congratulations to Mr. Callahan, who will become President of ABOTA in 2013. "I want to extend special thanks to the other candidates, Cynthia McGuinn of the San Francisco Chapter and Mark P. Robinson, Jr. of the Orange County Chapter. We are very appreciative of their service to ABOTA," said John L. Holcomb, 2009 National President and Nominating Committee Chair.




Next issue of Voir Dire explores 'implicit bias'


The next issue of Voir Dire magazine, the flagship publication of ABOTA, explores "Unraveling the Gordian Knot of Implicit Bias Jury Selection." Judge Mark W. Bennett, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Iowa, makes a compelling argument that voir dire, whether judge- or attorney dominated, does little to uncover the implicit bias that potential jurors bring to the courtroom. He further argues that the problem of implicit bias goes far beyond the jury pool to influence decisions and actions by jurists and attorneys alike. His proposed solutions, like Alexander the Great's cutting of the Gordian Knot, will grab the attention of all readers, of this thoughtful, well-documented essay and provide the basis for lively discussion.

The remainder of the issue, highlighted by the article, "I-Jury: The Impanelling of Jurors through the Internet Has Reduced the Barriers to Civic Participation," examines the way cities are searching for
new and more cost-efficient ways to impanel jurors through innovative and interactive methods.

Voir Dire is at the press. Your issue issue will be arriving soon!




ABOTA members explore the Baltic during International Meeting in July


More than 220 ABOTA members and guests explored the Baltic region aboard the Regent Seven Seas Voyager, July 6-21. The trip began in Stockholm, Sweden, and continued to ports in Finland, Russia, and Estonia before ending in Denmark. Prior to the cruise, a large number of members toured Norway; after the cruise, more than 130 members extended their trip to Moscow. On July 17 the National Board held its third meeting of the year.

Photos by Rick Kraemer



Key meetings set stage for 2011

Mark your calendar for two key meetings in 2011:

ABOTA Leadership Conference
"Connecting with ABOTA"
This conference should be attended by all chapter officers.
Jan. 13-14, 2011
The Windsor Court Hotel
New Orleans, LA
To register, go to

National Jury Summit
"The Jury Trial of the 21st Century"
June 23-24, 2011
The Four Season Hotel, Chicago

Topics to include...
- Improving access to jury trials
- Jury trial innovations
- Enhanced Courtroom efficiency
- Juror considerations