About Us

Welcome to the Commission on the American Jury. We are excited to be continuing the combined work of the American Jury Project and the Commission on the American Jury.

The Commission on the American Jury began in 2003 under the leadership of ABA President-Elect Robert J. Grey, Jr.   His vision was to bring four ABA groups together to focus on the importance of the jury in the American democratic tradition as practiced at the beginning of the 21st Century by addressing key aspects of jury composition, comprehension, and culture.

The four ABA groups represented on this Commission include the Section of Litigation, the Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section, the Criminal Justice Section, and the Judicial Division. Each group appoints 3 members to the Commission.

Meet the Commission Members

Chair
Judge Denise Langford-Morris, Pontiac, MI

Criminal Justice Section Members
Patricia Cummings, Esq., Philadelphia, PA
Prof. Stephen Saltzburg, Washington, DC

Judicial Division Members
Judge Paul Wilson, Auburndale, MA
Judge Heather Welch, Indianapolis, IN

Section of Litigation Members
Dennis Drasco, Roseland, NJ
Judge Barbara Lynn, Dallas, TX
Steven “Steve” Weiss, Chicago, IL

Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section Members
Judge Leslie Miller, Phoenix, AZ
Brooks Magratten, Providence, RI 

Immediate Past Chair
Lucian Dervan, Nashville, TN

Special Advisor
Prof. Shari Diamond, Chicago, IL

Liaison to ABOTA Civil Roundtable
Dick Semerdjian, San Diego, CA

ABA Board of Governor Liaison
Lynn Fontaine Newsome, Florham Park, NJ

History of Jury Principles

Thomas Jefferson called the jury system "the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." The ABA currently has a significant body of work including general principles on the right to jury trial, jury selection, conducting a jury trial, deliberations and decision-making, post-verdict activity and other principles and practices relating to jury management. The task of the Commission on the American Jury, established in 2004 by former ABA President Robert Grey, was to review the current standards and determine how they should be consolidated, improved or updated.

On October 15, 2004, the American Jury held a National Symposium on the American Jury System at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. The purpose of the symposium was to vet the revision and consolidation of the current ABA standards on the jury system. Symposium participants included judges, lawyers, academics, jury experts, court administrators, bar leaders and others interested in the health of our nation's jury system. The revised principles were overwhelmingly approved by the ABA House of Delegates during the ABA Midyear Meeting in February 2005, and are now available to the public.