Paula Hannaford-Agor
Director, NCSC Center for Jury Studies
National Center for State Courts

Symposium reviews role of civil jury as a political institution

Williamsburg, Va. (January 20, 2013) — The National Center for State Courts (NCSC), Center for Jury Studies and the Institute of Bill of Rights Law are co-hosting a symposium, “The Civil Jury as a Political Institution” on February 22-23 at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Va.

This Symposium will review the various justifications for the civil jury as a political institution: as an instrument of popular sovereignty, a vehicle for applying community norms in law, a source of democratic legitimacy, and a check on government and corporate power.

“Criminal juries in their roles as a ‘bulwark against tyranny’ and the ‘conscience of the community’ usually get most of the attention by the media and by scholars. This symposium will focus on the debate over whether the civil jury plays a similar role in the American justice system, and if so, whether it does it well,” states Paula Agor-Hannaford, Director of the NCSC Center for Jury Studies.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, will deliver the opening remarks for the Symposium. Following Whitehouse’s remarks, six groups, featuring panelists from prestigious law schools across the country, will discuss various topics related to the civil jury as a political institution. The panel headings are: 1) Juries as Political Actors; 2) The Civil Jury’s Place in Our Constitutional Structure; 3) Value Judgments Through Damages; 4) Juries as Participants in Democracy; 5) Jurors as Community Experts; and 6) Representation By and Diversity on the Jury.

The event is free and open to the public although registration is recommended.

For more information on this symposium, please visit William & Mary Law School website.

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court reform organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. The National Center, founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, provides education, training, and technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.


National Center for State Courts, 300 Newport Avenue, Williamsburg, VA  23185-4147