Access to Justice

  • March 29, 2020

    Pro Bono Counsel Leaders On Mobilizing Against A Pandemic

    As cases of COVID-19 explode across the country, law firms are mobilizing to provide more pro bono support to legal aid groups and nonprofit organizations. Rebecca Greenhalgh and Steve Schulman, co-presidents of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, spoke with Law360 about key steps to take when responding to the pandemic.

  • March 27, 2020

    NY Judges Release 122 Inmates As Virus Cases Spike In Jails

    New York state court judges ordered the immediate release of 122 inmates detained in New York City jails on Thursday and Friday, finding it was a violation of those vulnerable individuals' rights to lock them up during the coronavirus outbreak, which had infected 183 individuals in the jails as of Friday afternoon.

  • March 27, 2020

    After $100M Ask, Legal Aid Funder Nets $50M For Relief Work

    As part of a $2 trillion relief package, Congress allocated $50 million to the Legal Services Corporation to help meet an explosion in legal needs stemming from the pandemic. The LSC, America’s largest single funder of civil legal aid, had requested double that amount, but its chief says that money will still make a difference.

  • March 24, 2020

    COVID-19 Border Restraint At Odds With Refugee Obligations

    The Trump administration's latest border restrictions, handed down under a rarely used public health statute to combat the coronavirus pandemic, likely flout U.S. obligations to not return people to countries where they will be persecuted.

  • March 23, 2020

    Kagan Joins Conservatives In Insanity Defense Ruling

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan aligned with her conservative colleagues Monday to uphold Kansas' narrow insanity defense, a ruling her fellow liberals say rips out "the core of a defense that has existed for centuries."

  • March 22, 2020

    How Coronavirus May Change Criminal Justice

    As COVID-19 ravages communities across the country, the world’s most incarceration-heavy criminal justice system is slowing down. Police are releasing arrestees; prosecutors are dropping low-level charges; parole officials are loosening rules. Could this pandemic change the way law is enforced going forward?

  • March 22, 2020

    Blacks, Latinos Bear Brunt Of Parole-Based Jail Time In NY

    Blacks and Latinos in New York state are supervised under parole, jailed before parole violation hearings and incarcerated for parole violations at disproportionate rates compared with whites, according to a recent report by Columbia University’s Justice Lab.

  • March 22, 2020

    ABA Task Force Chief On Meeting The Challenge Of COVID-19

    Jim Sandman, who recently stepped down from his nine-year post as president of the Legal Services Corp., America’s largest legal aid funder, is heading up an American Bar Association task force on the coronavirus outbreak. He told Law360 the pandemic could fundamentally change the way legal services are delivered in the future.

  • March 22, 2020

    Inside The Fight To Block Evictions During A Pandemic

    Across the country, tenants and their advocates are demanding a moratorium on evictions for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, adjusting their tactics on a daily basis to stop visits to crowded courthouses and prevent homelessness.

  • March 22, 2020

    2nd Circ. Urges Atty Access For Detainees Amid Pandemic

    The Federal Defenders of New York made progress in its fight for consistent access to clients in detention on Friday when the Second Circuit ruled that a mediator should be quickly appointed to help craft new protocols amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

  • March 18, 2020

    NY Landlords Can File Cases Despite Eviction Moratorium

    New York landlords can file eviction and nonpayment cases this week despite a statewide eviction moratorium that took effect Tuesday in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the court confirmed, raising concerns about close human contact and tenant anxiety in a health crisis.

  • March 16, 2020

    Law360's 2020 Access To Justice Editorial Advisory Board

    Law360 is pleased to announce the formation of its 2020 Access to Justice Editorial Advisory Board.

  • March 15, 2020

    MoFo Secures $1.5M Over Facebook-Based Wrongful Arrests

    An obscure California statute and social media connections led to the arrest of two men who found themselves facing potential lifetime prison sentences until a pro bono team from Morrison & Foerster stepped in.

  • March 15, 2020

    Justices Put Juvenile Sentencing Back On The Front Burner

    Less than two weeks after a new Virginia law led to the premature dismissal of Lee Boyd Malvo’s U.S. Supreme Court petition challenging juvenile life without parole sentences, the justices have selected a replacement case that could answer long-standing questions about cruel and unusual punishment.

  • March 15, 2020

    Why Is Unbundled Legal Help So Hard To Find?

    Across the country, an estimated 60% of state court litigants have no lawyer to help them. One way to close the justice gap is unbundled services, a form of limited legal representation, but cultural barriers and a lack of understanding have prevented widespread use of the concept.

  • March 15, 2020

    Iran, Cameroon Lead Worldwide Declines In The Rule Of Law

    The rule of law is declining more than it is advancing in a majority of the countries examined by the World Justice Project, with Iran and Cameroon seeing the largest drops, the organization has found in an annual report.

  • March 13, 2020

    ABA Assembles Task Force On COVID-19 Legal Needs

    Debt collection suits, evictions, insurance and government benefits claims — legal problems like these are always challenging, especially for low-income people who often lack legal counsel.

  • March 08, 2020

    NYC Indigent Defense Panels See Drain Of Local Lawyers

    Struggling with burnout and stagnant pay, New York lawyers are fleeing a program that provides experienced private counsel for poor defendants and people in family court, putting a strain on the system and chipping away at a career stepping stone for locally trained attorneys.

  • March 08, 2020

    Can The Courts Break Transgender Felons Out Of ID Prison?

    When transgender people are stuck using legal names that don’t conform to their gender identity, every interaction with the government, an employer or others who ask for their official identification can put them at risk of being outed and ostracized. For residents of nine states, certain convictions add another barrier to legally changing their names, sometimes for life.

  • March 08, 2020

    3 Ways Automation Can Enhance Access To Justice

    The delivery of legal services to low income consumers is being transformed by automation technology such as TurboTax-like forms for people facing eviction, and that transformation only shows signs of picking up steam as researchers continue to mine its potential for legal aid.

  • March 08, 2020

    Georgetown Prof Explains The Rise Of Nonlawyer Navigators

    At a time when more and more people have legal problems but don’t have lawyers, can people who aren’t lawyers help? Georgetown University Law Center senior fellow Mary McClymont talks with Law360 about the ways in which nonlawyers are increasingly playing a role in closing the justice gap.

  • March 01, 2020

    Justices Show Limits To Juries' Say In Death Penalty Cases

    Last week, a divided U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn a judge-ordered death sentence that no jury ever sanctioned, highlighting the unusually muddled legality of an estimated 97 death sentences around the country.

  • March 01, 2020

    Sidley's Push For Retrial Pays Off In Excessive Force Case

    More than six years of litigation and what became a six-figure verdict allegedly all started with Christopher Davis wanting some milk.

  • March 01, 2020

    Mooted DC Sniper Case Won't End Fight Over Juvenile Lifers

    Juvenile justice reformers rejoiced last week after Virginia passed a law extending parole eligibility to people serving life in prison for crimes they committed as minors. Though the development moots the closely watched D.C. sniper case at the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices have already begun considering five related juvenile life petitions.

  • March 01, 2020

    Pro Bono Partner Spike Shows Firms Upping Their Game

    The number of firms with pro bono partners, who spend most of their time overseeing and contributing to their firms’ efforts to provide free legal services, is at an all-time high, a trend that suggests firms are getting more and more serious about such work, according to a recent report.

Expert Analysis

  • The Gig Economy Can Bring More Legal Aid At Lower Cost

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    Many people in the United States are not getting the legal help they need, and at the same time many lawyers are struggling to find employment. A legal services gig economy could benefit both lawyers and clients, but it must be implemented without disrupting the existing market, says Adam Kerpelman of Juris Project.

  • Coercive Process For Material Witnesses Needs Reform

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    The current application of the material witness statute is deeply flawed and antithetical to the fundamentals of American criminal justice, say attorneys with Buckley LLP.

  • Don't Overlook First Step Act Pilot Programs

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    Much attention has been paid to certain First Step Act reforms and their impacts on those serving prison sentences, but two less-heralded programs created by the law could drastically reduce sentences for large swaths of the current prison population, say Addy Schmitt and Ian Herbert of Miller & Chevalier Chtd.

  • Good Intentions Don't Justify Denying Juveniles' Right To Trial

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    Sixth Amendment jury trial provisions do not apply to juveniles because their proceedings are considered rehabilitative. But by any definition, the proceedings and “sentences” juveniles face are certainly “criminal.” State courts should interpret their own state constitutions to give juveniles this fundamental right, says University of Illinois College of Law professor Suja Thomas.

  • Sentencing Data Raise Major Questions About Guidelines

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    A 30-city report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission sheds new light on the prevalence of unwarranted sentencing disparities in federal cases, and should get more attention from prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and the public, says Stephen Lee of Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP.

  • A Critical Crossroad In The Campaign To Close Rikers

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    In an initiative that could set new standards for jail reform across the country, New York City is seeking to shut down Rikers Island. Although remarkable progress has been made, the year ahead will be decisive, say Judge Jonathan Lippman and Tyler Nims of the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform.

  • The Cambodia Case And Complexity Of Genocide Prosecution

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    A recent ruling in Cambodia marked the end of an onerous, nine-year-long proceeding in which over $300 million was spent and only three former Khmer Rouge officials were sentenced. For some, the convictions brought closure, but others believed the trial to be a colossal failure of justice, say Viren Mascarenhas and Morgan Bridgman of King & Spalding LLP.

  • Rumors Of Civil Forfeiture's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

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    While the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Timbs v. Indiana ought to be celebrated by the civil forfeiture bar, it should not be viewed as a sea change — for three reasons, says Alexander Klein of Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco LLP.

  • Ivory Coast War Crime Acquittals Fuel Skepticism Of ICC

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    The acquittals last month of the former president of the Ivory Coast and a political ally add to the recent string of failures by the International Criminal Court to obtain convictions for accused war criminals. The decision is drawing attention for a number of reasons, say Viren Mascarenhas and Morgan Bridgman of King & Spalding LLP.

  • Why Review Title VII Exhaustion Requirements At High Court?

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    In Fort Bend County v. Davis, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether exhaustion of administrative remedies under Title VII is required before a court can exercise jurisdiction over a case. But many are wondering what practical difference, if any, the eventual outcome will make, says Carolyn Wheeler of Katz Marshall & Banks LLP.

  • Barr Could Steer First Step Act Off Course

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    The recently enacted First Step Act makes significant strides toward reforming the federal criminal justice system. However, if attorney general nominee William Barr is confirmed, his oversight could render the law almost ineffectual, says Lara Yeretsian, a Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney.

  • Civil Legal Aid's Essential Role In Wildfire Response

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    Wildfires and other natural disasters present a wide range of often unanticipated civil legal challenges. Disaster survivors should be able to turn to "second responders" from the legal community to preserve their rights, say John Levi of the Legal Services Corp. and Robert Malionek of Latham & Watkins LLP.

  • How To Stop Civil Jury Trials From Becoming Extinct

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    If we wait to take action until we identify all the reasons civil jury trials are in decline, trials might disappear altogether. Let's address the causes we've already identified using these important jury innovations, says Stephen Susman, executive director of the Civil Jury Project at NYU School of Law.

  • Stripping The False Premises From Civil Justice Problems

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    When I began researching access to justice in 2004, there were two settled beliefs about civil justice problems so obvious that few bothered to investigate them. Both turned out to be false, says Rebecca Sandefur, associate professor of sociology and law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Cy Pres Awards Are The Best Answer

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    The argument that cy pres awards violate the rights of absent class members is wrong on many levels and ignores the fact that prohibiting such distributions creates far more problems than it solves, says John Campbell, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

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