Access to Justice

  • June 16, 2019

    Cato's Neily On Fixing The 'Criminal Justice Woodchipper'

    Clark Neily, a vice president at the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, talks with Law360 about how he switched from constitutional law to criminal justice reform work, how the system is failing to protect American’s rights, and the potential for solutions spanning the ideological spectrum.

  • June 9, 2019

    Top Legal Aid Funder Lands $15M Marked For Disaster Relief

    The House of Representatives last week agreed to earmark $15 million out of a $19.1 billion supplemental disaster relief bill for the Legal Services Corporation. Unlike previous disaster acts, the money comes with no strings attached.

  • June 9, 2019

    Legal Aid For Migrant Kids Too Vital To Cut, Advocates Say

    The Trump administration is pointing to a "humanitarian crisis" at the border and congressional inaction in defending reductions to legal aid and other services for unaccompanied migrant children, but advocates say those programs are too important to cut, and that those youngsters housed in government detention centers are already too vulnerable.

  • June 9, 2019

    Defense-Friendly Evidence Rule Riles Va. Prosecutors

    The U.S. Department of Justice is lining up with state prosecutors across Virginia to squash a novel ethics rule that would require them to highlight defense-friendly evidence in criminal case files.

  • June 9, 2019

    McGuireWoods Helps Clear Kid Snarled In Fake Money Fiasco

    A sixth grader unknowingly used a counterfeit bill in his school cafeteria. He was set to be suspended until a McGuireWoods attorney stepped in as pro bono counsel, demonstrating the difference access to counsel can make in school disciplinary hearings.

  • June 9, 2019

    Suing Under Pseudonyms Faces School’s ‘Chilling’ Challenge

    Courts require litigants to use their real names, but pseudonyms are routinely allowed in sensitive cases involving claims like sexual assault. A Florida case is testing those protections for alleged victims in a move some attorneys say could chill others from coming forward.

  • June 4, 2019

    Cops Cite Judge's Link To Exoneration Group In Recusal Bid

    An Illinois town and a group of officials and police officers have asked a federal judge to step aside from a former prosecutor’s lawsuit alleging local police and prosecutors framed him for his wife’s murder, saying the judge’s daughter’s new job with the Exoneration Project creates an appearance of bias.

  • June 2, 2019

    Legal Deserts Push NM To Consider Nonlawyer Services

    Vast swaths of New Mexico have few licensed attorneys, an access to justice barrier for those in rural areas or of modest means. To bridge the access gap, the state Supreme Court recently announced it would consider allowing nonlawyer practitioners to provide civil legal services.

  • June 2, 2019

    What One Atty’s ‘Lenient’ Sanction Says About Criminal Justice

    A West Virginia man spent more than a year in jail because he was ghosted by his court-appointed attorney. And although the lawyer was suspended for it, some say the six-month punishment is too short and illuminates broader problems with attorney discipline and the criminal justice system.

  • June 2, 2019

    ABA’s Bob Carlson On Protecting The Rule Of Law

    As the American Bar Association’s current president, Bob Carlson wants to make clear that his more than 400,000-member organization has a mission that goes beyond its best known functions like certifying law schools, vetting judges or setting ethical standards for attorneys.

  • June 2, 2019

    Deal Ends Amish Woman’s Stand Against Immigration Photo

    The government has reached a settlement with an Amish woman who applied to become a permanent U.S. resident but was rejected because her religion did not allow for her to be photographed.

  • June 2, 2019

    Bail Reform’s Surge Puts New Spin On Old Fears Of Bias

    There’s a seismic shift afoot in how courts decide to release or detain those facing criminal charges before trial. To gauge just how fast that change is occuring, it’s worth looking back at 2013 TED Talk from a onetime prosecutor.

  • May 31, 2019

    High Court Border Shooting Case May Turn On Swing Vote

    The conservative-leaning majority of the U.S. Supreme Court will likely shut down a suit accusing a federal border patrol agent of wrongfully killing a Mexican teenager in a border shooting incident, attorneys say, but it would take just one conservative justice to create an upset.

  • May 19, 2019

    For Brooklyn DA, Reform Means Breaking Old Habits

    When Eric Gonzalez was elected Brooklyn district attorney in September 2017, the career prosecutor with Williamsburg roots knew that his peers in New York City’s most populous borough already considered themselves progressive.

  • May 19, 2019

    Split Over Pre-Plea Evidence May Earn High Court Review

    The case of a Texas man who spent four years in prison before video evidence cleared him of assault allegations could give the U.S. Supreme Court a vehicle to decide when prosecutors can withhold evidence of innocence from someone about to plead guilty to a crime.

  • May 19, 2019

    Does A New Law Give NJ Sex Abuse Victims Enough Time?

    New Jersey just gave victims of childhood sexual assault an additional 35 years to bring lawsuits against perpetrators. But while advocates praised the move, they also noted that New Jersey had not gone as far as some other states.

  • May 19, 2019

    How Legal Aid Groups Built An Army To Help Migrant Kids

    Judges have recognized a minor’s right to counsel nearly across the board in civil proceedings — except in the immigration courts. But some legal aid groups have made it their mission to rally pro bono attorneys ready to advocate for immigrant children left unrepresented by the system.

  • May 19, 2019

    Reform Of Fee-Based License Suspensions Hits Roadblock

    A Sixth Circuit ruling this month held that states can suspend driver’s licenses as leverage to collect court debt. The decision stunned reformers who say such suspensions violate Constitutional rights of the poor.

  • May 19, 2019

    Judges Skewer VA Over Medical Reimbursement Regs

    In a hearing last week over what could become the first ever certified class action at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, a panel of three judges lambasted the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for "doing everything it could" to limit emergency medical care reimbursements to veterans.

  • May 19, 2019

    Fla. High Court Rejects Proposed Cy Pres Rule

    The Florida Supreme Court has rejected a rule proposed by the state bar association that would have encouraged courts to distribute unclaimed funds from class action settlements to nonprofit legal services organizations.

  • May 12, 2019

    Man Beats Murder Charge, And Odds, By Helming Own Case

    Eight years into what ultimately became a nearly 13-year prison stint, Hassan Bennett made the rare and often criticized choice to take over as his own counsel as he fought charges for a murder he insisted he didn't commit. This month, however, he finally became a free man.

  • May 12, 2019

    Mass. Justices Won't Force Probes For Juror Language Bias

    Judges aren't required to probe potential jurors for bias against non-English speakers in criminal cases where a defendant uses an interpreter, the Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled, though it urged judges to do so when asked.

  • May 12, 2019

    Legal Aid Groups Think Bold To Fill Rural Gaps

    Living in a vast state where wide swaths of land are unreachable by road, many Alaskans lack regular access to police, courts and the legal services that concentrate in urban areas. To combat the problem, the Alaska Legal Services Corp. had to accept one fundamental fact.

  • May 12, 2019

    Getting Random With Harvard A2J Lab’s Greiner

    Jim Greiner, director of Harvard University’s Access to Justice Lab, wants to bring randomized controlled trials to the practice of law. He says the results could change the delivery of legal services and help those unable to afford lawyers.

  • May 12, 2019

    Haggis Case Tests Boundaries Of NYC Gender Violence Law

    An appellate case in New York involving rape allegations against movie director Paul Haggis is serving as a showcase for a New York City law against gender-motivated violence, which supporters of the accuser say covers a wider spectrum of crimes than Haggis wants the court to believe.

Expert Analysis

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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