Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients
ASTC’s Lifetime Achievement Award is not given annually, but only when deserved. There are no set criteria for the award other than the individual must have made a significant contribution to the field of litigation consulting. ASTC’s Board of Directors must approve nominees for the award.
ASTC is proud to display the names of these previous award winners.
Award Received: 1992
Conference: Kansas City
Widely considered one of the key pioneers of modern jury selection strategy, Cathy “Cat” Bennett was the inaugural recipient of the ASTC Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Bennett was known for persuading attorneys to ask probing, open-ended questions in jury selection at a time when voir dire was typically cursory. She taught lawyers to connect with potential jury members, to listen to their answers, and to observe non-verbal indicators of attitudes and beliefs. In so doing, Ms. Bennett helped pave the road for the type of meaningful jury selection that ASTC members assist their clients with in most jurisdictions today.
While Ms. Bennett received media attention from her work on high profile cases like the successful defense of William Kennedy Smith against rape charges, the dispute over Howard Hughes’ will and the 1984 John DeLorean cocaine trial, she was better known amongst her colleagues for her tireless dedication and service in political charged civil rights and capital cases. Her consulting work began with the case of the Oglala Sioux Indians who were charged in connection with a shootout with Federal agents at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1973. She also assisted in cases that won $20 million in judgments against the Ku Klux Klan, the White Aryan Resistance Group and skinheads.
Tragically, Ms. Bennett was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 34, and passed away in 1992 at the young age of 41.
Before her death, Ms. Bennett also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – she remains the only woman and non-lawyer recipient of the award. Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Law Poverty Law Center introduced Ms. Bennett by saying, “If Rosa Parks was the mother of the civil rights movement, Cat Bennett is the mother of modern criminal law practice in America. She has taught lawyers to be feeling, loving human beings, and that comes across to the jury.”
Award Received: 2007
Conference: Long Beach
Susan Macpherson is a founding member of the profession of trial consulting and of the ASTC. She joined the National Jury Project in its infancy in 1976 and attended the first ASTC meeting back in 1982. Since that time she has built a very successful career while tirelessly working on behalf of ASTC, upholding the highest standards of the trial consulting profession, serving as a mentor to many new consultants, working with court systems and other legal organizations on jury trial innovations, and promoting the value of pro bono work. Ms. Macpherson served on the ASTC’s Board of Directors.
Some of Ms. Macpherson’s many contributions to ASTC include spearheading the task force on jury reform which has researched and written position papers opposing the reduction of peremptory challenges and the difficulties in obtaining accurate information from jurors during voir dire because of systemic problems, such as poor questioning styles and the courtroom atmosphere. She remains part of ASTC’s Jury Trial Issues Task Force.
Additionally, Ms. Macpherson was a leader in developing the ASTC Professional Code (standards and guidelines for trial consultants), helping to draft the first set of standards governing venue surveys, serving as Standards Committee Chair and continuing to work on this committee to this day, navigating the new challenges to venue research presented by emerging technology.
Having consulted in over 800 cases, Ms. Macpherson has a long and distinguished record of working on complex commercial and white collar criminal cases but is always willing to roll up her sleeves and do pro bono work. Attorneys describe her as being someone they trust and respect. Always willing to lend an ear, Ms. Macpherson’s colleagues say she is the first person they turn to when facing an ethical dilemma or need advice about a challenging issue. Her wisdom and willingness to share her experiences make her a valuable resource for consultants, novice and experienced alike.
Award Received: 2008
Marjorie Fargo has worked in the field of litigation since 1975, giving practical advice in hundreds of criminal and complex civil matters across the country. She was court-appointed in both capital and non-capital murder cases and has submitted affidavits and testified as an expert on jury procedures in state and Federal courts. Among Ms. Fargo’s contributions, her diligent work for defendants in capital cases was instrumental in achieving verdicts that did not result in the death penalty for her clients. While she took on some of the most demanding and difficult cases, Ms. Fargo has always maintained a positive attitude with her everlasting good spirit and sweet Georgia smile.
Ms. Fargo is a dedicated member of ASTC. She served on ASTC’s Board of Directors and assisted in drafting the jury selection section of ASTC’s Professional Code. In addition to being a highly skilled practitioner and valued member of ASTC, Ms. Fargo has given back to the field through her ability and willingness to teach attorneys and others in the profession. Her gift for teaching interview skills has benefited many of her clients and CLE attendees by showing attorneys the most effective way to probe into juror attitudes, including sensitive topics that many lawyers try to avoid. Over the years, Ms. Fargo has trained many new trial consultants to do jury work. She helped write sections of the National Jury Project’s original edition of Jurywork: Systematic Techniques and has continued to mentor interns in her private practice. As one of the field’s pioneering members, Ms. Fargo did ground-breaking work to shift the view of voir dire as a short opening statement to the prevailing view that voir dire is the best and only opportunity to identify potential cause and peremptory challenges.
Ms. Fargo’s work has impacted the justice system as a whole. She has been successful in composition challenges, uncovering the systemic nature of the underrepresentation of African-Americans in certain jury pools – a task that requires great coordination between attorneys, experts, staff, and volunteers, and an enormous amount of dedication. These efforts have had a lasting impact on jury selection procedures.
Award Received: 2009
Dr. Sheldon helped pioneer the field of trial consulting. After earning a law degree from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Georgia State University, he started Sheldon Associates. He later partnered with DeAnn Gibson Sinrich and formed SheldonSinrich, LLC.
Since entering the field of trial consulting, Dr. Sheldon has volunteered his time and resources to assist on a host of pro bono efforts. Dr. Sheldon served as President for the American Society of Trial Consultants. He is most renowned for his efforts to help resurrect several Civil Rights era murder cases including the State of Mississippi’s 1994 prosecution of white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith for the 1963 murder of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evans. Dr. Sheldon also assisted with the prosecution of Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry, who were responsible for the 16th Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham that killed four girls in 1963.
Over the span of his nearly 30-year career, Dr. Sheldon has exhibited a strong sense of moral justice and equality. He is one of those rare individuals who chose to act on these beliefs rather than simply stand on the sidelines. As he explained in a 2009 interview: “If you live or grow up in the South you are particularly attuned to racial attitudes and the effects of racial violence in the culture. If that bothers you, then at some point you want to do something to change that. At some point, I needed to get involved instead of skating through life focused on my own narcissistic goals.”
Award Received: 2010
Patricia McEvoy is a founding partner of Zagnoli, McEvoy and Foley. Dr. McEvoy retired in 2010 after dedicating more than twenty years to the field of trial consulting. She began her esteemed trial consulting career in 1987. Prior to earning her Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa, she received an M.A. in Education from Northern Arizona University and a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa.
Dr. McEvoy was introduced to the field of trial consulting as a graduate student when she took a position with Hale Starr. Since then, Dr. McEvoy helped found the American Society of Trial Consultants and has served as an elected Board of Directors member and annual conference planner.
Dr. McEvoy prides herself on the close bonds she has formed with trial teams over the years and relishes the challenges that many of her cases posed.
Award Received: 2011
Beth Bonora has been zealously providing consulting services for the advocates she worked with for more than 40 years. In the early 1970’s, before there was an ASTC or a trial consulting field, there was just a group of folks working toward the goal of ensuring a fair jury where it was not likely that there would be one. Beth Bonora was among those pioneers who were committed to social justice and to training others to take up the challenge of jury work.
The first case Beth worked on took several years and demonstrated the value of jury workers in supporting the trial team by preparing a change of venue motion followed by successful jury composition challenge. Using a survey to support a change of venue motion was still a new technique back then, and it required a huge undertaking with no funding. But that effort paled in comparison to the effort required for the jury composition challenge. The team discovered that the new county where the case was moved underrepresented women, African-Americans and young people. Through many months of careful research Beth and her team developed a challenge that the judge could not ignore.
Beth went on to help attorneys representing the Attica Prison inmates involved in prison rebellion. Selecting a fair jury was challenging and complex. False pretrial publicity claimed the inmates committed unspeakable acts of violence during the uprising. The jury selection strategy involved a survey and Beth helped to refine the new survey techniques that Jay Shulman began to develop in earlier trials involving unpopular, antiwar protesters.
To further develop the field of jury work, Beth contributed several chapters to a manual called “The Jury System: New Methods for Reducing Prejudice A Manual for Lawyers and Social Scientists.” In 1975, Beth and others formed the National Jury Project, an organization of jury consultants committed to pursuing social justice. Business and commercial litigators soon recognized the value of jury consultants, and Beth found herself immersed in antitrust work. In 1979 Beth and Elissa Krauss became the editors for National Jury Project’s two volume manual called Jurywork: Systematic Techniques, designed to bring together relevant tools and research from law, sociology and psychology to promote a better understanding of the jury system and jury behavior. In 2000, Beth left NJP and with her partner, Idgi D’Andrea, founded a new firm, Bonora D’Andrea, LLC.
Award Received: 2012
Conference: New Orleans, Louisiana
Award Presentation by: Karen Lisko, Ronald Matlon, Charlotte Morris
Richard Crawford was a founding member of the organization and served on the first Board of Directors and as the third president of ASTC in 1985. He began his career as a professor, teaching communication and persuasion and coaching debate at the University of Northern Colorado and, later, teaching trial advocacy at the law school at the University of Colorado. Although he considered a career in law, once Dr. Crawford discovered the field of trial consulting he never looked back. Initially he founded his own nationwide consulting firm. Later in his career he joined the law firm of Holland and Hart in Denver, becoming the first ever in-house trial consultant at a law firm. Over his 30-year plus career Dr. Crawford worked on more than 400 cases.
In the early 1980s, Dr. Crawford co-edited with Dr. Ronald Matlon his first law and communication book entitled Communication Strategies in the Practice of Lawyering. In 1988 Dr. Crawford published the The Persuasion Edge, a trial manual based on juror psychology and communication theory that became known as the book litigators should not be without. In 2006 he teamed with ASTC member Charli Morris to modernize the classic, publishing it under the new title, The Persuasive Edge.
Dr. Crawford is described by colleagues as having “a great intuitive sense” and an ability to perceive jurors’ innermost thoughts and feelings through the responses they gave in voir dire. He is known for teaching lawyers to forget about what they learned in law school and to relate to the jurors as real human beings with real human emotions. Dr. Karen Lisko, the consulting colleague who followed Dr. Crawford at Holland and Hart, said that trial consultants are “coaches for powerful advocacy and for teaching fact-finders in an ethical way. Dick Crawford took those roles seriously and set an example for all. You know a man is a legend when he becomes a verb. Long after his retirement, people would ask me, “Can you ‘Crawford’ my opening?”
With typical eloquence and style, Dr. Crawford made the following remarks when he received a service award at the 1997 annual ASTC conference:
When I try to explain of describe our profession, I often think of lines like these:
We don’t make the evidence; we make it more relevant.
We don’t make the speeches; we make them more persuasive.
We don’t make the witnesses; we make them more direct.
We don’t make the verdicts; we make them less random.
We don’t make the attorneys; we make them more complete.
And we don’t make justice; we make it more frequent.
In 2009 Dr. Crawford passed away after a battle with cancer. His contribution to the field of trial consulting cannot be measured. Many of today’s leaders in the ASTC personally knew and learned from Dr. Crawford and his unique perspective on courtroom persuasion and advocacy.