Access to Justice

  • 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

    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

    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

    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.

  • February 27, 2020

    Justices Shut Courthouse Doors On Border Patrol Victims

    The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to toss a suit over a Mexican teen’s fatal shooting by a Border Patrol officer effectively leaves similarly situated families with no legal recourse for constitutional rights violations, experts said.

  • February 23, 2020

    Debt-Based License Suspensions Get Fresh Scrutiny In NY

    New York lawmakers are taking a closer look at doing away with driver’s license suspensions based on debt, which a New York Law School report this month determined disproportionately impacts minority motorists.

  • February 23, 2020

    How Attys Can Help Dismantle The School-To-Prison Pipeline

    As the rise of school shootings spurs an increase in spending on school police officers, experts at a recent conference said students need more due process protections when those officers handle routine disciplinary matters: Police involvement, they said, should mean attorney involvement too.

  • February 23, 2020

    Homeboy Industries' Harati On Giving People A Fresh Start

    As the director of legal services for LA-based Homeboy Industries, Donna Harati helps former gang members and convicted felons rejoin society by working with them on expungements, custody disputes and more. Here, Harati discusses traffic fines, trauma and finding reasons to smile during tough situations.

  • February 23, 2020

    Coin Toss: Are Risk-Measuring Tools Accurate Enough?

    Most of the algorithms used to assess someone's risk of recidivism before they are released on bail are correct about 60 and 70% of the time — better than a coin flip, but still prone to misclassification, especially in cases that involve people of color. The tools’ potential for error has left stakeholders clashing over their use.

  • February 21, 2020

    Ex-Felons In Fla. Race Against Clock To Vote In 2020

    Former felons in the Sunshine State who are fighting a requirement that they pay all outstanding fines and fees before being able to vote may have scored a recent win at the Eleventh Circuit, but with just eight months to go before the general election and the state vowing to battle on, time may be running out for them to cast a ballot in 2020.

  • February 18, 2020

    ABA Says Industry Regs Need A Rethink, But Will It Matter?

    The passage of a revised American Bar Association resolution intended to encourage a new look at legal industry regulation and increase access to justice represents a major step forward, even in the absence of any recommended changes on nonlawyer participation in the market, some experts say.

  • February 09, 2020

    Ariz. Tests Nonlawyer Advice For Domestic Violence Victims

    For many survivors of domestic violence, trying to leave an abusive situation presents an array of legal issues, but affordable legal help can be hard to come by. The state of Arizona is hoping to fill that need with a new type of legal adviser.

  • February 09, 2020

    Could Fee-Based Voting Restrictions Tilt The 2020 Election?

    In Florida, a perennial political battleground, efforts to reenfranchise those with felony convictions have been stymied by requirements that they pay off legal debts before voting. Individual confusion over what people owe and uneven court efforts to help them find out could lead to echoes of the contested 2000 election.

  • February 09, 2020

    NY Prosecutor Watchdog At Crossroads After Court Setback

    Backers of a New York commission for policing prosecutors are facing hard choices after a court found the watchdog to be in conflict with the state constitution, including whether to erase the group’s authority to hand out punishments altogether.

  • February 09, 2020

    DoNotPay Founder Opens Up On ‘Robot Lawyers’

    Last month, an app that allows users to “sue anyone at the press of a button” won recognition for its contribution to legal access from the American Bar Association. Law360 caught up with its creator, 23-year-old Joshua Browder, to learn more about his “robot lawyer.”

  • February 09, 2020

    Crime Victims Can See Costs Pile Up, But New Law May Help

    A newly signed law in New Jersey allowing victims of violent crime to receive greater compensation for legal fees represents a critical milestone in the Garden State’s efforts to financially support that vulnerable population, who can face mounting costs in the wake of a tragedy, advocates say.

  • February 02, 2020

    Will Others Follow NJ's Lead In Banning Facial Recognition App?

    The New Jersey attorney general's recent decision to ban law enforcement in the state from using a controversial facial recognition technology should encourage other governments to pump the brakes and take a harder look at police use of such software, some lawyers say.

  • February 02, 2020

    Morgan Lewis Helps Fuel Man's Murder Conviction Fight

    Recently released from prison, Demond Weston says life on the outside can make him feel like “a 46-year-old baby learning to walk.” Still, it’s a challenge he welcomes after serving nearly 30 years behind bars for a murder he says he didn’t commit.

  • February 02, 2020

    Ill. Gov. Calls For State Lawmakers To Phase Out Cash Bail

    Illinois should eliminate cash bail as a step along the "long path toward a fairer criminal justice system," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in his state of the state address, calling for lawmakers to act on the idea in the spring session. 

  • February 02, 2020

    California Adds To Growing Scrutiny Of Jury Selection Bias

    In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial discrimination in jury selection was unconstitutional, and ever since, prosecutors and defense attorneys have been required to provide a “race-neutral” reason when accused of striking jurors unfairly.

  • February 02, 2020

    In New Mexico, Nonattorney Helpers Could Ease Justice Crisis

    In courts where an enormous number of litigants do not have legal counsel, “everything takes dramatically longer,” but some are hopeful that a number of new initiatives approved by the New Mexico Supreme Court will mitigate some of the challenges rural counties face in order to help people access justice in a way that is useful to them and which will lead to a more effective and efficient court system.

  • February 02, 2020

    UK Not Immune To Global Problem Of Accessing Legal Help

    A new survey of legal needs in England and Wales found that although a majority of citizens has dealt with a legal issue in the past four years, many people are still uncertain about how to get legal help and many did not get the help they needed, issues that also common in other countries, including the United States.

  • January 26, 2020

    Alec Karakatsanis On The Rule Of Law’s ‘Usual Cruelty’

    In “Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System,” Civil Rights Corps founder Alec Karakatsanis argues that “rule of law” is neither objective nor neutral. He spoke with Law360 about the need for radical transformation in the legal industry.

  • January 26, 2020

    Will 5th Circ. Sanction Threat Chill Death Penalty Appeals?

    A sharply worded sanction warning by a Fifth Circuit judge about “disorderly” filings in death penalty cases could discourage lawyers from pursuing every legitimate appeal in the court before a client’s execution, experts said.

Expert Analysis

  • NLRB Case Hinders Workers' Path To Justice

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    A little-noticed National Labor Relations Board filing has taken the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 class action waiver decision and turned it into a justification for further limiting workers’ access to courts, says Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School.

  • Immigration Enforcement Under Trump Neglects Rule Of Law

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    What President Donald Trump and his administration have described as a “humanitarian crisis” at the U.S. southern border is, in reality, a Trump-exacerbated crisis — which demands real solutions, not incendiary rhetoric, cruelty and lawlessness, says David Leopold of Ulmer & Berne.

  • Calif. Lawmakers Should Stay Out Of USC Sex Abuse Case

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    A pending settlement between the University of Southern California and 17,000 former students would resolve claims over the actions of a sexually abusive gynecologist. But proposed state legislation could undermine the settlement, says Shook Hardy partner Phil Goldberg, director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Center for Civil Justice.

  • Utah's Online Dispute Platform Is Streamlining Small Claims

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    By making small claims litigation cheaper, faster and more convenient, especially for those facing difficulty appearing in court due to work schedules or geographic distances, an online pilot program in Utah is resolving cases that would otherwise go unfiled — or defaulted upon, says Martin Pritikin, dean of Concord Law School at Purdue University Global.

  • The First Step Act Is A Major Step For Sentencing Reform

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    While many have heralded the First Step Act as an example of bipartisan cooperation, the mainstream press has said surprisingly little about the law's specific sentencing improvements — many stemming from recommendations made by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, says Judge Patti Saris, chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

  • How To Improve Jurors' Perceptions Of Legal Outcomes

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    When practitioners use methods to emphasize procedural fairness during jury selection, they can engender more faith in the justice system among potential jurors — which can extend beyond trial, says Natalie Gordon of trial consulting firm DOAR.

  • The Role Of Data In An Access To Justice Movement

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    To change the system, we need the wider community to see beyond personal stories of injustice to the “complete picture” of the lack of access to civil justice. Collecting data, indexing it and making it comprehensible is a key part of painting that picture, say James Gamble and Amy Widman of Fordham Law School's National Center for Access to Justice.

  • Changing The Conversation On Bail Reform

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    Instead of looking at “bail reform” as a choice of bail or no bail, we need to focus on reforming four major aspects of the criminal justice process that lead up to the point of bond determination, says Wilford Pinkney of FUSE Fellows.

  • How Do We Know If Prosecutors Are Doing A Good Job?

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    From Special Counsel Robert Mueller to Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx, prosecutors are receiving plenty of negative attention in the news, but there is no clear standard for judging prosecutor performance, says Jeffrey Bellin, a professor at William & Mary Law School.

  • The Criminal Justice System's Algorithms Need Transparency

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    Trade secret protections for pretrial risk assessment algorithms must be eliminated, or else criminal defendants will be unable to challenge or even examine the data being used to keep them incarcerated, says Idaho state Rep. Greg Chaney, whose bill forcing algorithmic transparency recently passed the Idaho Legislature.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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