Access to Justice

  • May 03, 2020

    Winston & Strawn Lends Virtual Hand To DACA Recipients

    A looming U.S. Supreme Court decision could end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at any moment. Winston & Strawn attorneys are conducting virtual clinics to help DACA recipients file for two more years of legal status before it’s too late.

  • May 03, 2020

    For The Homeless, Virus' Threat Also Brings Hope For Reform

    Coronavirus-fueled stay-at-home orders have contributed to an existing catalog of laws that are difficult for homeless people to obey. But attorneys say the pandemic has also opened the door for impact litigation that could make more safe housing available.

  • May 03, 2020

    Disaster Aid Portal Aims To Ease Hunt For Pro Bono Work

    The American Bar Association's Disaster Legal Services program has teamed up with legal technology company Paladin to launch a pro bono portal that allows attorneys across the country to volunteer their time to people affected by COVID-19 and other disasters.

  • May 03, 2020

    Cops Sued For Forcing Sex Offenders To Appear Amid COVID-19

    Authorities in Fresno, California, are inflicting "cruel and unusual punishment" on registered sex offenders and violating the U.S. Constitution by requiring the individuals to appear in person for registration updates during the coronavirus pandemic, three offenders contend.

  • May 01, 2020

    Judge Troubled By 'Brazen' Acts Affecting Inmate/Atty Access

    The New York federal judge overseeing the mediation of a lawsuit brought by The Federal Defenders of New York against the Federal Bureau of Prisons over attorneys' access to clients in detention on Friday voiced concern over continued problems, including "brazen" conduct by prison guards who were reportedly listening in on an inmate's phone calls with lawyers.

  • April 26, 2020

    After Win, Those Fighting Divided Verdicts Eye Next Chapter

    A high court ruling last week that nonunanimous jury verdicts in criminal cases are unconstitutional could prove huge for defendants in two states who are challenging their convictions, though questions such as the ruling’s retroactive impact still need to be answered.

  • April 26, 2020

    UPenn Law Prof On How Public Health Policy Must Improve

    University of Pennsylvania law professor Eric Feldman says the novel coronavirus has revealed both the failures of international public health policy and the civil rights trade-offs of containing a pandemic in the U.S. and internationally.

  • April 26, 2020

    Virus Sparks Calls To Pump The Brakes On Debt Suits

    As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to envelop the country, some consumer advocates are calling for greater protections for debtors until the crisis abates, arguing that the economic crisis is negatively impacting the ability of Americans to not only pay their debts but also fight collection actions in court.

  • April 24, 2020

    NY Inmates Still Getting Burned On Atty Access, Judge Told

    An attorney for the Federal Defenders of New York on Friday told the Brooklyn federal judge overseeing a dispute over attorneys' contact with their incarcerated clients in New York federal jails that problems are persisting, including two cases of COVID-19 positive inmates who were being held in medical isolation without telephonic access to their attorneys or families.

  • April 22, 2020

    5th Circ. Denies Prosecutors Immunity In Fake Subpoena Suit

    The Fifth Circuit has ruled in a published opinion that a group of Louisiana prosecutors who attempted to use fake subpoenas to pressure witnesses and crime victims to answer questions are not entitled to the usual immunity that comes with the office when pursuing a criminal case.

  • April 19, 2020

    Homeless Angelenos Get Due Process Win Over City Seizures

    In January 2019, Janet Garcia returned from getting ready for work to find that all of her belongings had been seized and destroyed by the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation.

  • April 19, 2020

    Amid Pandemic, Hearings For Detained Migrant Kids Go On

    As federal courts close their doors during the coronavirus pandemic, immigration court proceedings for migrant children in government custody are moving forward. Attorneys told Law360 that continuing these hearings risks children's health and threatens due process.

  • April 19, 2020

    Virus Forces Transparency Reckoning Among Highest Courts

    Since coronavirus concerns shuttered courthouses nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court and some appellate judges have given in to livestream technology. Transparency advocates welcome this development and hope the practice will continue even after the pandemic ends.

  • April 19, 2020

    Victims’ Rights Suffer Blow In Epstein Case

    In the latest twist in the Jeffrey Epstein saga, a split Eleventh Circuit panel ruled last week that the protections of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act do not arise until after a formal criminal charge has been filed. For Epstein’s victims, it could mark the end of a 12-year-long legal challenge — and for the victims’ rights movement, it could be a lasting blow.

  • April 19, 2020

    O'Melveny Helps Reunite Family Amid COVID-19 Fears

    When three young siblings found themselves detained 50 miles from their father's home in Maryland, with the government moving to deport them rather than reunite the family, it was the latest hardship in a journey fraught with danger.

  • April 19, 2020

    Bail Bond Groups Can’t Sink Calif. Price-Fixing Suit

    For those who turn to bail bonds in California, the cost of getting oneself or a loved one out of prison while awaiting a court date can be steep, but a proposed class action now poised to move forward contends there’s more to those rates than honest market forces.

  • April 13, 2020

    Judge Demands Info From Officials In Miami Jail Virus Suit

    A Florida federal judge said Monday that the criminal justice system must face new realities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as she pressed Miami-Dade County for information she said will be essential in considering a proposed class action alleging inmates' constitutional rights are being violated by inadequate jail conditions.

  • April 12, 2020

    'Not Our Best Days': The Fiscal Crisis Coming For Legal Aid

    Civil legal aid attorneys are scrambling to help low-income clients with problems like evictions and unemployment arising from COVID-19, but many of them worry the virus' economic effects are about to take a sizable bite out of their organizations' budgets.

  • April 12, 2020

    Vecina Founder On Helping Asylum-Seekers Remotely

    Lindsay Gray created Vecina to bring together pro bono attorneys and asylum-seekers. One of the organization’s key features — connecting attorneys with clients remotely — has taken on new importance in the age of COVID-19.

  • April 12, 2020

    Can Law Enforcement Handle Scofflaws Amid A Pandemic?

    Fines of up to $5,000, felony charges for misdemeanor crimes and a woman incarcerated in a trailer behind the local jail: Despite efforts to maintain voluntary compliance with public health orders spurred by COVID-19, law enforcement is testing a range of tactics for scofflaws who endanger themselves and others.

  • April 09, 2020

    Calif. District Courts Want Speedy Trial Act Deadlines Paused

    California’s Eastern and Central Districts have asked the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit to suspend Speedy Trial Act deadlines, arguing that their strained judicial resources won’t allow them to comply in light of backlogs caused by the novel coronavirus.

  • April 09, 2020

    Mass. Judge Says Virus-Prone Detainees Meet Class Criteria

    A Massachusetts federal judge has certified a class of immigrant detainees seeking to be released from a county jail that allegedly lacks adequate protections against the coronavirus, saying that we are now in "a world brought to its knees by the pandemic."

  • April 05, 2020

    COVID-19 Makes ‘Strange Bedfellows’ Of LA Defenders, DAs

    When attorneys felt Los Angeles’ courthouses were slow to respond to the coronavirus threat, a set of frequent adversaries reached across the aisle. The public defenders’ and district attorneys’ unions jointly asked that courthouses shutter, saying they’d endangered lawyers and their clients.

  • April 05, 2020

    New York's About-Face On Bail Reform Wins Few Fans

    Just three months after historic bail reforms took effect in New York, the state Legislature agreed last week to roll back some of the changes in an effort to placate fierce opposition from law enforcement and conservatives. But while many reform advocates aren’t pleased with the results, law enforcement isn’t cheering either.

  • April 05, 2020

    'No Release' Injunction In NY Could Be A Blueprint Elsewhere

    A court decision blocking the New York field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from using its so-called “no release” policy for certain people detained before a hearing is being hailed by immigrant advocates as a key victory that could set an important standard for other parts of the country.

Expert Analysis

  • High Court Should Restore Sentencing Due Process

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    If the U.S. Supreme Court grants certiorari in Asaro v. U.S. and rules that sentencing judges cannot consider uncharged, dismissed and acquitted conduct, a peculiar and troubling oddity of criminal and constitutional law will finally be rectified, say criminal defense attorney Alan Ellis and sentencing consultant Mark Allenbaugh.

  • Book Review: Who's To Blame For The Broken Legal System?

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    The provocative new book by Alec Karakatsanis, "Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System," shines a searing light on the anachronism that is the American criminal justice system, says Sixth Circuit Judge Bernice Donald.

  • High Court Should Affirm 3-Strikes Rule For Prisoner Pleading

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    The U.S. Supreme Court in Lomax v. Ortiz-Marquez should hold that any case dismissed for failure to state a claim should count as a strike for purposes of Section 1915(g), which allows incarcerated people to file three complaints free of charge, says GianCarlo Canaparo at The Heritage Foundation.

  • Acquitted Conduct Should Not Be Considered At Sentencing

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    Congress should advance the Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act, which seeks to explicitly preclude federal judges from a practice that effectively eliminates the democratic role of the jury in the criminal justice system, says Robert Ehrlich, former governor of Maryland.

  • Thank A Female Veteran With Access To Legal Services

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    Women returning from military deployment often require more legal assistance than their male counterparts, and Congress can alleviate some of these burdens by passing the Improving Legal Services for Female Veterans Act, says Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa.

  • California Should Embrace Nonlawyer Providers

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    Despite criticisms from the legal profession, a California proposal to allow some legal service delivery by nonlawyers is a principled response to the reality that millions of Americans currently must face their legal problems without any help, says Chris Albin-Lackey, legal and policy director at the National Center for Access to Justice.

  • Calif. Law Offers New Hope For Child Sexual Abuse Victims

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    The recent passage of A.B. 218 in California — extending the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases — will pose challenges for the justice system, but some of the burdens posed by abuse will finally be shifted from survivors to accused abusers and the organizations that enabled them, says retired Los Angeles Superior Court judge Scott Gordon.

  • Core Rights Of Accused At Issue In High Court's New Term

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    The U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming decisions in several criminal cases this term will determine whether certain rights of the accused — some that many people would be surprised to learn are unsettled — are assured by the Constitution, say Harry Sandick and Jacob Newman at Patterson Belknap.

  • Bill Limiting Forced Arbitration Is Critical To Real Justice

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    Real justice means having access to fair and independent courts, but that will only be a reality when Congress bans predispute, forced arbitration under federal law with the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, which passed the House on Friday, says Patrice Simms at Earthjustice.

  • 3 Ways DOJ Is Working To Improve Justice In Indian Country

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    As both a federal prosecutor and a member of the Choctaw Nation, I am proud of the U.S. Department of Justice's current efforts to address crime in Indian Country while respecting tribal sovereignty, says Trent Shores, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

  • Rules Of Evidence Hinder #MeToo Claims In Court

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    If women and men who bring sexual harassment allegations in court will ever have a level playing field with their alleged harassers, the rules regarding what evidence is relevant in a sexual harassment trial must be changed, says John Winer at Winer Burritt.

  • Sealing Marijuana Convictions Is A Win For Justice System

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    As a result of a novel class action, hundreds of New Yorkers' old convictions for marijuana-related crimes are being sealed, an important step toward a more equal justice system where the needless collateral consequences of marijuana criminalization are eliminated, says Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.

  • DOJ's Latest Effort To Undermine Impartial Immigration Bench

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    The U.S. Department of Justice's recent petition to decertify the National Association of Immigration Judges on the grounds that members are “management officials” and precluded from unionizing is part of a continuing effort to curb judicial independence in immigration court, says former immigration judge Jeffrey Chase.

  • Electronic Monitoring Technology Must Be Regulated

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    Based on my research into the electronic monitoring technologies that are increasingly becoming part of the criminal justice system, it is clear that they must be regulated, just as medical devices are, says Shubha Balasubramanyam of the Center for Court Innovation.

  • What You Should Know About Courtroom Closures

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    At attorney Greg Craig’s trial in D.C. federal court this week, the courtroom was cleared so prospective jurors could answer sensitive questions. Even seasoned litigators were left wondering about the nature of this subtle, yet significant, issue involving Sixth Amendment public trial rights, says Luke Cass at Quarles & Brady.

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