The Civil Justice Scholarship Award, bestowed periodically to published legal academics, recognizes current, scholarly legal research and writing focused on topics in civil justice, including access to justice and the benefits of the U.S. civil justice system, as well as the right to trial by jury in civil cases.
The Civil Justice Scholarship Award is supported by a grant from the AAJ Robert L. Habush Endowment.
2023 Winners — Goldberg, Zipursky, Zambrano
Professor Goldberg, of Harvard Law School, and Professor Zipursky, of Fordham Law School, are recognized for their book Recognizing Wrongs (Harvard University Press, 2020). In this work, they explain the distinctive and important role that tort law plays in our legal system, defining injurious wrongs and providing victims with the power to respond to those wrongs civilly. Goldberg and Zipursky systematically explain how their “civil recourse” conception makes sense of tort doctrine and captures the ways in which the law of torts contributes to the maintenance of a just polity.
Professor Zambrano, of Stanford Law School, is recognized for his article, Federal Expansion and the Decay of State Courts (86 U. Chi. L. Rev. 2101 (2019)). Zambrano argues that we are now in a “third era of judicial federalism, defined by federal judicial expansion into areas of state-court power and federal monopolization of large and complex litigation,” coinciding with decay of state courts. Yet, at a time of federal efforts to circumscribe access to court, state courts are more important than ever. This “federal expansion and state-court decay represent the most fundamental developments in judicial federalism.” Zambrano offers evidence that, in the 1980s and 1990s, the federal government “began to aggressively appropriate state-court litigation,” for instance allowing institutional litigants to opt out of state courts. But, while federal courts have adopted “prodefendant procedural rules . . . state courts remain relatively proplaintiff, leading to a clear divergence between the two systems and a host of normative concerns.” The Award recipients will receive monetary stipends and a paid trip to be honored at the NCJI Fellows reception in Phoenix, Arizona in February 2023.
High Distinction for an Article
Professor Jonathan Cardi, Professor Valerie Hans, Professor Gregory Parks
The Institute also recognized with high distinction the team of Professor Jonathan Cardi of Wake Forest University School of Law, Professor Valerie Hans of Cornell Law School, and Professor Gregory Parks of Wake Forest University School of Law, for their article Do Black Injuries Matter?: Implicit Bias and Jury Decision Making in Tort Cases (93 So. Cal. L. Rev. 507 (2020)). The authors conducted one of the first comprehensive experimental examinations of how race affects judgments on personal injuries. They found that the dollar awards for the injuries suffered by black plaintiffs in hypothetical cases were lower than awards for the same injuries experienced by white plaintiffs. “These results,” they conclude, “offer troubling new evidence of how race, responsibility, and injury are intertwined.”
2022 Winners — Fitzpatrick and Frankel
Professor Fitzpatrick, of Vanderbilt Law School, is recognized for his book The Conservative Case for Class Actions (U. Chicago Press, 2020). In the book, he defends class action lawsuits against their most powerful critics: political conservatives, corporations, and related institutions. Fitzpatrick convincingly argues that class actions are the most effective way of enforcing laws that ensure a well-functioning market, including laws against corporate misconduct. He also analyzes many potential problems with class actions and potential ways to improve them. Professor Frankel, of Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law, is recognized for his article, Corporate Hostility to Arbitration (50 Seton Hall L. Rev. 707 (2020)), in which he exposes inconsistencies in the behavior of corporations with respect to mandatory arbitration. He shows that they can, and do, use their drafting power to exclude particular claims from arbitration in order to serve their self-interest, while the Federal Arbitration Act prohibits states from regulating arbitration for those same reasons. The Award recipients will receive monetary stipends and a paid trip for themselves and a guest to be honored at the next NCJI Fellows reception, which will take place (circumstances permitting) in Palm Springs, California this February.
High Distinction Honorees
The Institute also recognized law review articles for high distinction among the 49 nominations received. Professor Brooke Coleman of Seattle University School of Law, is recognized for her article #Sowhitemale: Federal Civil Rulemaking (113 NW. U. L. Rev. 407 (2018)) in which she addresses gender and racial inequality in the rulemaking process, asking members of the legal profession to recognize, account for, and address institutional sexism and racism. Professor David Noll, of Rutgers Law School, is recognized for his article Arbitration Conflicts (103 Minn. L. Rev. 665 (2018)), in which he explores the question of how the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) relates to other federal laws, which provide some of the most important checks on the use of arbitration to block aggregate litigation and hide evidence of wrongdoing from public scrutiny.
2021 Winners — Sperino, Thomas, and Wojcik
2021 Civil Justice Scholarship Award to Sandra Sperino, Suja Thomas, and Mark Wojcik
Professor Sperino, of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and Professor Thomas, of the University of Illinois College of Law, are honored for their book, Unequal: How America’s Courts Undermine Discrimination Law (Oxford University Press 2017), in which they examine the ways in which courts have impeded private enforcement of anti-discrimination laws through civil litigation.
Professor Wojcik, of the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, is honored for his article, Extending Batson to Peremptory Challenges of Jurors Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, 40 No. Ill. U. L. Rev. 1 (2019), in which he argues that it is time to extend the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Batson v. Kentucky to all federal and state trial courts, and to prohibit expressly the exclusion of jurors based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
High Distinction Honorees
The Institute also recognized two publications for high distinction among the 35 nominations received: Rights and Retrenchment: The Counterrevolution against Federal Litigation (Cambridge University Press 2017), in which Professors Stephen Burbank, of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Sean Farhang, of the University of California, Berkeley, examine responses to the “rights revolution” that unfolded in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, and trace the increasing hostility to the enforcement of rights through lawsuits; and The Trouble with Trial Times Limits, 106 Geo. L. J. 933 (2018), in which Professor Nora Freeman Engstrom, of Stanford Law School, examines an issue that is quietly and negatively affecting trials at a time when few cases go to trial. She looks at specific trials and data that demonstrate the random implementation of time limits of trials, and how they add additional limitations on plaintiffs.
2020 Winner — Clopton and Steinman
2020 Civil Justice Scholarship Award to Zachary Clopton and Adam Steinman
Professor Clopton, of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, is honored for his article Procedural Retrenchment and the States, 106 Calif. L. Rev 411 (2018), in which he evaluated possible state-court and state-enforcement responses to the Roberts Court’s recent procedural decisions, and suggested further interventions by state courts and public enforcers that could offset the recent regression in access to justice.
Professor Steinman, of The University of Alabama School of Law, is honored for his article Access to Justice, Rationality, and Personal Jurisdiction, 71 Vand. L. Rev. 1401 (2018), in which he analyzed the United States Supreme Court’s recent decisions on personal jurisdiction in civil litigation, examined the situations where personal jurisdiction doctrine is most likely to threaten access to justice and the enforcement of substantive law, and proposed ways to work within the Court’s case law to preserve meaningful access and enforcement.
High Distinction for an Article
The Institute also recognized an article for high distinction among the nominations received: The Shifting Sands of Employment Discrimination: From Unjustified Impact to Disparate Treatment in Pregnancy and Pay, 105 Geo. L. J. 559 (2017), by Professor Deborah Brake, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. In an interesting and well-written article addressing one of the most frustrating aspects of employment discrimination law, pay discrimination, Brake argues for using recent developments in the law of pregnancy discrimination to shift the understanding of discriminatory intent in the jurisprudence of equal pay.”
2019 Winner — Alexandra Lahav
2019 Civil Justice Scholarship Award to Alexandra Lahav, In Praise of Litigation
The Officers and Trustees of the National Civil Justice Institute have given the Institute’s 2019 Civil Justice Scholarship Award to Professor Alexandra Lahav of the University of Connecticut School of Law, in recognition of her book, In Praise of Litigation (Oxford University Press, 2017). Lahav is the Ellen Ash Peters Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut School of Law. She teaches civil procedure, torts, complex litigation, professional responsibility, and related subjects. She is a nationally recognized expert on the civil justice system and tort law. In her winning work, In Praise of Litigation, Lahav argues that lawsuits are good for society and are needed in a healthy democracy. She finds that most critiques of “litigiousness” in America today are based not on facts, but on anecdotes, and that most “tort reform” proposals will make it harder for citizens to fight for their rights. In other recent work on the civil justice system, Professor Lahav has studied the changing win-rate patterns in federal courts, the effects of incentives on judicial decision-making, and the optimal design of procedural systems. She has also studied the role of litigation tactics in changing the law in the antebellum period of American history. Currently, she is spearheading a project on evaluating litigation risk. Read more about Lahav’s book here.
High Distinction for Two Publications
The committee also recognized two works for high distinction among the nominations received: one for a book and one for an article. In the book category, the committee honored Professor Suja Thomas of the University of Illinois College of Law for her book The Missing American Jury: Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil and Grand Juries (Cambridge University Press, 2016).
In the article category, they recognized Professor Myriam Gilles of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University for her article The Day Doctrine Died: Private Arbitration and the Rule of Law, 371 U. ILL. L. REV. 371 (2016).