Jury Service

2016 David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship:
You, the Juror

What role does Jury Service play in our Democracy?

Start Your Essay Here


What role does jury duty service play in our democracy?


Daniel Savitz
1st Prize Winner
Queensborough Community College
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Leslie Francis

Wai Shan Ng
2nd Prize Winner
Queensborough Community College
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Leslie Francis

Mavis Duncan-Dyer
3rd Prize Winner
Queensborough Community College
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Theodore Rosen


Jessica Martin
1st Prize Winner
Genesee Community College

Jessica Wickham
2nd Prize Winner
Onondaga Community College

Ashlee Dow
3rd Prize Winner
Genesee Community College
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Charles Scruggs

First prize CUNY winner Daniel Savitz with Executive Director of the Society Marilyn Marcus at a luncheon in honor of the winners at the Court of Appeals' Law Day

Society Executive Director Marilyn Marcus with first prize SUNY winner Jessica Martin. We hosted a special luncheon in honor of the winners at the Court of Appeals' Law Day where family members of the winners joined us along with some of the staff and judges of New York's highest court.

Introduction to the Garfinkel Scholarship


6 scholarship prizes are available through the contest, 3 for CUNY students & 3 for SUNY students. The top prize for each group is $1,500 with runner up prizes of $1,000 & $500.


The Scholarship is open to all students enrolled in a New York Community College in the Fall 2015 and/or Spring 2016 Semester! We encourage students from all disciplines to submit essays.


Essays must be sent in by April 1, 2016. Submissions accepted now!


Essays must be between 1,500 and 5,500 words in length. Your essay must contain original writing and research.

The Steps of Writing an Essay

1. Suggested Questions

What role does jury service play in our democracy?

Below are a series of questions to help guide your essay. You may select from one or more of these questions or come up with your own topics.

  1. Trace the history from 1777 to the present on qualifications for jury service in New York. Who could serve then and who can serve now?

  2. Why is jury service important to our democracy? Does it promote civic participation?

  3. What is the role of a jury in a criminal case? Is it important or unnecessary? Defend your position by looking at New York court cases, constitution & legal history.

  4. Does the exlusion of a juror on the grounds of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation affect the defendent's right to an impartial trial? Defend your position by looking at New York court cases, constitution & legal history

2. Research

The key to writing an excellent essay is picking an argument or approach to the question you believe is correct and researching that topic to find evidence either for or against your idea. These materials can be found almost anywhere from news reports to court cases to the memories of the people involved.

The Society provides a wide range of resources to help kick-start your research, which you can see on our Resources page. But we also encourage you to reach out to your professors, librarians and look into any source that might help your argument.


3. Write Your Essay

When you start your essay its important to keep in mind your argument and to be sure you clearly set this out. A common way of saying this is: tell the reader what you're going to say, say it, and then tell the reader what you've just said. This contest is focused on legal writing which emphasizes above all else clarity and the use of evidence to support what you are writing. There are many ways to do this, and you can see some suggestions and writing hints on our site!


4. Submit Your Essay

Sending us your essay is easy! When you're done writing and editing your piece (don't forget to hit spellcheck one last time!), just go to our submit page where you can send in your essay.

We only ask that you sent your essay in with no identifying information, all of which you can provide through our submission process. This makes it easier for us to ensure that your essay is judged anonymously & fairly!


The David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship is generously supported by Gloria & Barry Garfinkel in memory of their son David. Their support has enabled the Society to offer this contest since 2008.

The Historical Society of the New York Courts was founded in 2002 with the mission of preserving New York's rich legal history and educating the public about it through programs, publications and other projects. Visit the Society's main site.