The Civil Jury Project received several condolences, via email and our website, after the death of Founder Stephen D. Susman. They serve as a testament to the many lives he touched through his work.
Many lawyers talk about their love for the jury system, but Steve put the words into action through the Civil Jury Project at NYU School of Law. I was fortunate to have worked firsthand with Steve at the first Jury Improvement Lunch in Los Angeles and, then, when I served as a moderator at the October 2018 state trial court forum in New York. His dedication to the preservation of the civil jury trial is inspiring, and will not be forgotten.
Judge Elizabeth R. Feffer
I am so sorry to hear the sad news. Steve was indeed a champion of democracy. My jury trials are so much better now with his good and gentle and persistent advice in my head and his caring and conscience in my heart.
Chief Judge John R. Tunheim
Cognizant there are no words, you are all in my thoughts and prayers. SDS was sui generis. I was honored to have worked at SG and continued my friendship with him since 1993. Like I’m confident for all of you, he was my go to on a myriad of levels. I look forward to honoring him and advocating for him and his legacy. Prayers abound. My very best.
Very sorry for your loss. Steve was an amazing guy.
Judge Cindy Truong
So sorry for the loss of such a great trial attorney and legal practice leader. He will be missed!
Given Steve’s horrific injuries and subsequent complications, including COVID-19, his death was not a surprise, but it still leaves one reeling.
As you know as well as anyone, a professional relationship with Steve quickly becomes a cherished friendship which is irreplaceable. My deepest condolences to you, Kaitlin, Michael, and everyone else who worked so closely with Steve and the CJP.
When we are a bit further down the road and as the dust settles, please let me know what I can do to assist in carrying on the work.
Judge Tom Marten
Steve’s loss is sad and tragically too early. Thanks for keeping the mission alive.
I am very sorry for the loss.
Professor Cindy Simmons, J.D.
I am so sorry we have lost Steve. I met him last year when I was honored to participate in the Civil Jury Project. He was a very nice man who was passionate about the Civil Jury Project. He will be missed!
Judge Susan Johnson
So sorry to hear about Steve’s passing. He was such a powerful and passionate force and I know you will all miss him. Deepest condolences.
Judge Nancy Fuerst
I am very sorry to hear this. My first encounter with Steve was at an ABA Litigation Section years ago, in Cleveland I think, where he, Phillip Corboy and Max [? From L.A.] participated in an audience-judged mock trial. Steve wore a three-piece chocolate brown suit with cowboy boots and employed his best Texas drawl. Beat the pants off them! He was doing important work with the Civil Jury Project as well. I saw him here over lunch with the judges and twice at luncheon sessions later, the most recent featured by my taking a verdict while his meeting was in progress and bringing two of the jurors with me to the remainder of the meeting. Steve made a difference!
Judge R. Brooke Jackson
I am so sorry to hear this very sad news. Steve was a wonderful lawyer whose talents in the courtroom were exceeded only by his care and concern for our great profession. May his memory forever be a blessing.
Judge Timothy Driscoll
Steve Susman was larger than life in so many ways. We in the legal community feel his loss acutely. I have been truly fortunate to work with him as a judicial advisor on the The Civil Jury Project and to witness firsthand his enthusiasm and dedication to this important work. With the ”vanishing jury trial” resulting in diminished opportunities for lawyers to try cases, Steve wanted to design a way for young lawyers to gain experience in the courtroom. I am heartened by the fact that we were able to institute the Young Lawyers in the Courtroom Program in the Harris County courts last year and that Steve had the opportunity to see his wonderful idea come to fruition. This program is just one of many examples of Steve Susman’s unwavering commitment to the legal profession and to making it accessible to all — whether litigants, litigators, or jurors.
Judge Caroline Baker
So sorry for your loss, as a friend and colleague.
Executive Director-National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA)
I’d like to start by offering my condolences for the loss of Steve Susman. I only had the pleasure of meeting him in-person on one occasion at the ASTC conference in 2016, but just that single experience made an impact on me, and I know he’s made such a positive impact on so many others. To donate the amount of time, money, and effort he devoted to causes like the Civil Jury Project is truly remarkable. He may be gone but his contributions to society will surely live on.
Jury Consultant Advisor
I first met Steve Susman at the Federal Courthouse on Spring Street in Los Angeles where I now sit in Department 4. A new federal courthouse was built in downtown Los Angeles so this building became available and was leased by the Superior Court for 10 years. At that meeting Steve explained the goals of the Civil Jury Project. He created excitement in myself and other state Court Judges who attended. Not long thereafter a group of us were invited to spend a day at NYU with state and federal judges from across the Country. It was there that I was able to speak to Steve and learn more about his goals for the Project. We met again when he returned to Los Angeles for a meeting with Jurors and lawyers. I was on a panel discussion with him and was able to provide background on the Los Angeles County Superior court which has almost 500 judges.
Each month I looked forward to the “Jury Matters” monthly newsletter.
I hope the Civil Jury Project continues. It is needed more than ever as we deal with this Pandemic.
I was so sad when I heard about Steve’s bike accident and read of his love of biking. There have been so many wonderful tributes to Steve since his passing. He accomplished so much in his lifetime. I’m happy I was able to spend time in his presence, a presence that will be missed by so many. I prayed for Steve and his family. Theirs is the greatest loss.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.
Judge Steve Moloney
Steve, a gentleman and a scholar, a friend and an adversary, became my hero when he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to preserving the jury system. He will be dearly missed. Rest in peace Steve.
Judge Patricia O. Alvarez
I feel so fortunate to have had lunch with Steve in February, just before all this madness began. He had recruited me to go to New York to be a presenter for the Civil Jury Project. That opportunity did not occur, but I am committed to fulfill my promise to Steve to work on this project.
This will be just one of the many legacies he leaves behind. I am honored that he asked me to be a part of this legacy. His vision will live on.
Judge Vanessa Gilmore
I am very sorry to learn that this engaging gentlemen has passed away. Steve had such enthusiasm for the jury as a democratic institution. My condolences to all who knew him well.
Judge Joan Lefkow
Steve was a champion of the civil jury. He brought so many people together—judges, lawyers, academics, and policy makers—to try to make change. Steve gave of his mind, time and money—not many people can do all of these things. I’m thankful of all of his efforts. We will miss him so much.
Professor Suja Thomas
Steve’s passing is a loss to the legal profession but we cannot let it be a setback in the furtherance of promoting the constitutional right to a jury trial, a right that he honored and held so dear through his creation and work on The Civil Jury Project.
Jury Consultant Advisor
I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn today of Mr. Susman’s death. What a huge loss to the legal community of this nation. My contact with him was via the Civil Jury Project and an article I wrote for the newsletter, but his bubbling enthusiasm and intelligence permeated his writing and clearly inspired the talented staff of the Jury Project. My deepest condolences to his family and colleagues.
Judge Catherine Shaffer
One comment Steve made stays with me: that lawyers starting today could never have the kind of litigation career he and lawyers of his generation enjoyed. There were many reasons for this but chief among them, in Steve's judgment, was declining faith in, and use of, the civil jury--a legal institution he prized and trusted almost above all else. He made it his personal mission to defend what he saw as a vanishing institution.
Professor Jeffrey Abramson
I am saddened to hear of the loss of Steve Susman. I only met him in person once. He had such high energy and drive. I greatly enjoyed the presentation that he did in Chicago last year with Judge Clare McWilliams. This is a heavy loss for our profession.
Judge Rena Van Tine
I join the chorus of mourners at the news of Steve Susman's death. I met Steve in the mid-1990s when I was seeking his law firm's financial support for a national research project by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) on how trial judges across the United States manage jury trials. He was eager to support our efforts and went so far as to enlist the financial support of other successful trial lawyers in Texas. His enthusiasm for the project was instrumental in producing NCSC's State of the States survey. He has been a grand promoter of trial by jury ever since. The entire legal profession owes a debt of gratitude for the life of Steve Susman. I extend my condolences to his family and professional colleagues at Susman Godfrey and NYU's Civil Jury Project.
Judge Gregory E. Mize (Ret.)
I am deeply saddened with the passing of Mr. Stephen Susman, founder of the prestigious law firm Susman Godfrey. I came to know Mr. Susman as part of his lead role in the Civil Jury Project at NYU School of Law. Just this past year, I was honored to serve with him on a panel presentation in San Antonio, Texas. As a long-time judge, even I learned a few things about jury trials. He will be sorely missed. He was truly an Officer and Gentleman of the Court. May he Rest in Peace.
Judge Peter Sakai