In 1957, the American jury system was under fierce attack by the press, legislators, judges and scholars. California’s Governor, Edmund “Pat” Brown, suggested a commission to hear workers’ compensation, liability and other civil cases. It was this dark cloud – the potential death sentence for the civil jury system – that provided the seeds for the birth of the American Board of Trial Advocates. A handful of young lawyers began an organization (ABOTA) that was “revolutionary,” according to most of their elders. The same forces are at work today as they were in the late 1950′s – some people continue to attempt to dismantle the civil jury system in our country — and the attacks are far less subtle.
The preservation of the civil jury trial, “Justice by the People,” is the primary purpose of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We seek attorneys who display skill, civility and integrity, to help younger attorneys achieve a higher level of trial advocacy and to educate the public about the vital importance of the Seventh Amendment. Thomas Jefferson was of the opinion that the right to trial by a jury of fellow citizens was a more important safeguard of personal liberty than even the right to vote. With a jury, the rights and duties of each of us will be decided by our fellow citizens, not by a bureaucrat or governmental functionary. ABOTA embraces this philosophy of Jefferson and is a leader in the fight to preserve and protect the rights of every American to a jury trial. ABOTA is dedicated to “Justice by the People.”
This documents the video history of FLABOTA since its inception in 1992. Past President John Whitman engaged Video Law Services to interview past presidents of FLABOTA, leaders of ABOTA National and others to chronicle FLABOTA’s history, and the excellent video here, is the result.