Munsterman Award


Paula Hannaford-Agor
Director of the Center for Jury Studies
National Center for State Courts

Texas district clerk to receive 2021 G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation

Marilyn CoverWilliamsburg, Va., Oct. 28, 2021 – Harris County Texas District Clerk Marilyn Burgess has been named the recipient of the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) 2021 G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation.

The Munsterman Award recognizes states, local courts, organizations and individuals that have made significant improvements or innovations in jury procedures, operations and practices.

In selecting Burgess for the award, the committee noted her significant efforts to improve Harris County’s jury management system since being elected in 2019, including:

  • Implementation of an in-house, e-Juror summoning system, which allows prospective jurors to pre-register for jury duty online. The process determines eligibility prior to issuing a court date – increasing the county’s ability to project the number of prospective jurors who will appear. From April to July 2021, Harris County reported a 94.3 percent appearance rate.
  • Securing funding for juror benefits that include free meals and parking permits.
  • Launching the “Stand for Justice” public education campaign to promote the importance of jury service, targeting underrepresented minority communities that are underrepresented for jury service.

Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of NCSC’s Center for Jury Studies, praised Burgess’ innovative accomplishments.

“Burgess has made a significant impact with jury utilization in Harris County, Texas. She has found a way to make the process more convenient and efficient, reducing the burden of the county’s constituents,” Hannaford-Agor said. “She’s also gotten a lot of media attention for her efforts, including the need to increase juror pay.”

Burgess has proposed raising juror pay from $6 to $50 for the first day of duty and from $40 to $80 for subsequent day(s). The proposal is on hold due to the pandemic but will be reconsidered once it subsides.

The Munsterman Award is named for G. Thomas Munsterman, the founder and former director of NCSC’s Center for Jury Studies and an internationally renowned innovator in jury systems and research. Munsterman, 80, resides in Decatur, Ga.

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