Professor Saltzburg Honored by American Bar Foundation

Steve Saltzburg
December 21, 2020

Stephen A. Saltzburg, the Wallace and Beverley Woodbury University Professor of Law, is the recipient of the 2021 American Bar Foundation (ABF) Fellows Outstanding Service Award.

The award is presented annually to an ABF Fellow “who has, in his or her professional career, adhered for more than 30 years to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession and to the service of the public.”

Recognized for his longstanding advocacy for civil rights, civil liberties, human rights, and criminal justice reform, Professor Saltzburg will receive the honor at the ABF Virtual Annual Fellows Awards Banquet on Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

Professor Saltzburg joined the law school in 1990 after serving on the faculty of the University of Virginia School of Law. He has taught civil procedure, constitutional law, criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, and trial advocacy and is the author of numerous books and articles on evidence, procedure, and litigation. After graduating from law school, he served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Upon notification of the award, Professor Saltzburg said, “It is hard to believe that 2021 will be my 50th year as a lawyer, and I look back on all of those years with great joy. Not only did I have the chance to serve as a Supreme Court law clerk for Thurgood Marshall, but I have had a chance to work with some of the most talented judges and lawyers in the country and to teach great law students at both the University of Virginia School of Law and for the last 30 years at GW Law. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to be a government lawyer on three occasions: as Associate Independent Counsel, as Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and as the Director of the U.S. Treasury Department Tax Refund Task Force.”

“It has been a special thrill to represent the Criminal Justice Section (CJS) in the American Bar Association House of Delegates for many years and to be nominated for the ABF Award by my co-delegate and friend, Neal Sonnett.  I am very grateful to Neal for the nomination and to Professor Lucian Dervan of the Belmont University College of Law and Sandy Weinberg (both former Chairs of CJS) for writing in support of the nomination,” added Professor Saltzburg.

He continued, “During all these years, I have believed that serving as a lawyer was a calling and an opportunity to improve the quality of justice throughout the United States. I have done my best to instill in my students the special role that lawyers play in America and to encourage them to use their best efforts to improve access to justice for those who for far too long have been unable to sense that they are equal under the law. So many of my colleagues at GW Law do the same thing, and I have been proud to part of the GW Law faculty every day of my 30 years here. Teaching at GW is a joy – even in a COVID environment.”

Appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States, he has served as a reporter for, and then as a member of, the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and as a member of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence. He was the reporter for the Civil Justice Reform Act Committee for the DC District Court before he became chair. He also served as a special master in two class action cases in the DC District Court and continues to serve as a mediator for the U.S. Court of Appeals for DC.

Professor Saltzburg was one of four co-founders of the National Institute of Military Justice (NIMJ) in 1991, along with GW Law Associate Dean John Jenkins. NIMJ was established to increase public awareness and understanding of military justice issues and to focus on reforming and improving the investigation and prosecution of crime by military personnel and courts. Professor Saltzburg served as NIMJ General Counsel for 28 years. 

Professor Saltzburg has held a number of government positions including associate independent counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation; deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Attorney General’s ex-officio representative on the U.S. Sentencing Commission; and director of the U.S. Treasury Department Tax Refund Fraud Task Force.

He chaired the ABA Criminal Justice Section from 2007 to 2008 and represents the section in the ABA House of Delegates. He was appointed to the ABA Task Force on Terrorism and the Law and to the ABA Task Force on Gatekeeper Regulation and the Profession in 2001 and to the ABA President’s Advisory Group on Citizen Detention and Enemy Combatant Issues in 2002. In 2003, he served as chair of the ABA Justice Kennedy Commission, a group convened to conduct a detailed examination of the American criminal justice system.