June 3, 2020


The ABOTA mission statement recognizes: “America’s greatness lies in its people. And in its people lies the foundation of justice – trial by jury.” To believe in the Seventh Amendment, we must first love, respect and value people. If we truly value people, it is our duty to denounce anything and anyone who violates human dignity. Failing to rebuke such injustice subverts the heart and soul of ABOTA’s mission. It is, therefore, our obligation to speak out against the systemic racism that continues to choke the lifeblood of our civil democracy.

Last week, a Minneapolis police officer crushed and extinguished a human life, while three other officers stood by and endorsed the unlawful killing of George Floyd. In just the last decade, we have witnessed the same violence perpetrated against one black person after another. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Oscar Grant. John Crawford III. Ezell Brown. Laquand McDonald. Eugene Ellison. Terrence Crutcher. Antwon Rose II. Stephon Clark. The list goes on. It is important to say their names so that we do not lose sight of the value of their human lives and the meaning of these countless deaths. While the list is long, our memories cannot be short. We cannot be indifferent. Elie Wiesel’s poignant insight challenges us to care: “Indifference is the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor – never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten…. not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity, we betray our own.”

The ABOTA Foundation “envisions equal justice for all in a vibrant and civil democracy.” Even when we feel atrophied and wasted from persisting worry about all who matter to us during this pandemic, we cannot surrender our conscience or our mission to fatigue. Even when we are powerless to prevent injustice, there must never be a time when we fail to protest. Because silence is betrayal, we are called upon to demand that our justice system hold accountable those who trespass against human rights and equal justice.

Fifty-three years later, we must still take the same stand as Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967: “Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.” We are each in a position to speak the truth, to demand justice, to stand for whoever and whatever benefits humanity. Our commitment to the core principles of ABOTA’s mission demands no less.


Doris Cheng

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Civility. Professionalism. Honor. Respect.

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Trial by Jury, a Precious Right

America’s greatness lies in its people. And in its people lies the foundation of justice, trial by jury. The 7th Amendment is a precious right that is increasingly under attack by those who would eliminate justice by the people in favor of justice by the bureaucracy.

The American Board of Trial Advocates membership consists of more than 6,000 trial lawyers representing equally the plaintiff and defense bars, as well as judges, spread among 90 chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The San Francisco Chapter has over 300 members. Since its inception in 1958, ABOTA’s primary mission has been the preservation of the civil jury trial right guaranteed by the 7th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” The Constitution of the United States, Amendment VII, Ratified December 15, 1791.

ABOTA is an invitation-only organization. Prospective members must have at least five years of active experience as trial lawyers, have tried at least 10 civil jury trials to conclusion and possess additional litigation experience, and exhibit the virtues of civility, integrity and professionalism.

Through its membership and specialized committees, ABOTA responds to seemingly endless attacks on the civil jury trial system. ABOTA tracks legislation which impacts the right to civil trial by jury and violates resolutions adopted by ABOTA’s National Board of Directors. Members of ABOTA have taken positions on a variety of issues that impact the practice of law and the right to civil trials by jury. In 1986, the cumulative resolutions were distilled and listed. Since that time, ABOTA has continued to speak with a unified voice on key issues.

ABOTA Code of Professionalism

As a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, I shall:
Always remember that the practice of law
is first and foremost a profession.
Encourage respect for the law, the courts,
and the right to trial by jury.
Always remember that my word is my bond
and honor my responsibilities to serve
as an officer of the court and protector of individual rights.
Contribute time and resources to public service,
public education, charitable and
pro bono activities in my community.
Work with the other members of the bar, including judges, opposing counsel, and those whose practices are different from mine, to make our system of justice more accessible and responsive.
Resolve matters and disputes expeditiously, without unnecessary expense, and through negotiation whenever possible.
Keep my clients well-informed and involved
in making decisions affecting them.
Achieve and maintain proficiency in my practice and
continue to expand my knowledge of the law.
Be respectful in my conduct toward my adversaries.
Honor the spirit and intent, as well as the requirements
of applicable rules or codes of professional conduct,
and shall encourage others to do so.

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American Board of Trial Advocates
15356 Sunnyhaven Street
San Leandro, California 94579

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