Jury Service

Celebrating Our 10th Anniversary!

2017 David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship:

You, the Voter

How Far Have We Come?    Is the Journey Over?

Start Your Essay Here

Jury Service

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 2016 and/or Spring 2017 Semester. We encourage students from all disciplines to submit essays.


Essays must be sent in by April 3, 2017. 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 Topics

You the Voter: How Far Have We Come? Is the Journey Over?

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.

    Trace how voting, once the privilege of the elite, became the right of all citizens. Discuss the American journey to "one person, one vote," or focus on how one or more specific group(s) of Americans won the vote.

    Some States across the nation have passed laws that creates hurdles to the universal right to vote by restricting access to the ballot for some of their residents. Examples of such legislation are voter IDs, rollback of early voting, and elimination of same day registration. Should the Courts have a role in overseeing these laws?

    States traditionally control the redrawing of voting districts of their residents. Some States across the nation have passed laws that strengthen or weaken the principle of "one person, one vote." Should the Courts have a role in overseeing these laws?

    If you have a better idea for a topic about voting rights, go for it! Picking your own topic is allowed and won't disqualify you. You may select another aspect of You, the Voter as your topic, or combine elements of the other topics provided.

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.