National Center for State Courts
Arizona-based sociologist receives 2020 Warren E. Burger Award for Excellence in Court Administration
Williamsburg, Va., Sept. 2, 2021 — Sociologist and longtime access to justice advocate Rebecca Sandefur received the National Center for State Court’s 2020 Warren E. Burger Award today during a meeting of the Conference of Chief Justices/Conference of State Court Administrators in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
This distinction recognizes non-judicial court leaders whose work has significantly contributed to improving the administration of the state courts. Named for NCSC visionary and former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, the award honors a person who demonstrates professional expertise, leadership, integrity, creativity, innovativeness and sound judgment.
“For decades, Dr. Sandefur has been a tremendous advocate of access to justice for all,” said NCSC President Mary C. McQueen. “Her empirical research as a sociologist provides important insights that help the courts and legal community better understand barriers to the information and assistance needed to resolve people’s civil legal issues.”
Sandefur, a sociology professor in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, has been involved with access to justice issues for many years. In 2009, she edited the book, Access to Justice. Sociology of Crime, Law, and Deviance. Other notable accomplishments include service as The Hague Visiting Chair in the Rule of Law, being honored as a National Center for Access to Justice Champion of Justice and being awarded a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship.
In addition to her work at ASU, Sandefur is a Faculty Fellow at the American Bar Foundation, where she founded and leads the Access to Justice Research Initiative. She is also editor of the Law & Society Association’s Law & Society Review. Sandefur sits on the board of the Utah Supreme Court’s Office of Legal Services Innovation and is co-vice-chair of the State Bar of California’s Closing the Justice Gap working group.
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.