Access to Justice

  • May 17, 2021

    Justices Limit New Trials For Non-Unanimous Convictions

    The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday that defendants whose appeals have run out cannot take advantage of last term's ruling that convictions by non-unanimous juries are unconstitutional, denying automatic new trials for potentially thousands of prisoners in Louisiana and Oregon convicted under what the justices said were racist schemes.

  • May 16, 2021

    Ariz. U's Butler On Tackling Medical Debt Without Lawyers

    Stacy Butler can list several numbers tied to the legal troubles Americans face each year because of their medical debt. Here, the director of University of Arizona’s Innovation for Justice program discusses why the innovation lab decided to focus on the issue with pilot projects in Utah.

  • May 16, 2021

    For Justice Tech Entrepreneurs, It's Deeply Personal

    Justice tech is often fueled by entrepreneurs with personal experiences shaped by the legal system, but capital funding can be lacking.

  • May 16, 2021

    Sheppard Mullin Helps Secure Win For Voters With Disabilities

    Virginia election officials have agreed to provide electronic absentee ballots to people with visual impairments during June’s primaries, marking the latest triumph for a Sheppard Mullin partner supporting legal efforts to expand voting rights for Americans with disabilities.

  • May 16, 2021

    Resentencing Laws To Cut Terms Gain Momentum Across US

    More lawmakers and prosecutors are considering resentencing laws to decrease mass incarceration and address the over imprisonment of people of color, recognizing that extremely long sentences don't deter crime and disproportionately target minorities, according to a recent report.

  • May 14, 2021

    Conn. Lawmaker Vows Late-Session Push On 'Clean Slate' Bill

    A Connecticut lawmaker told advocates that a bill allowing for some convictions to be erased from criminal records will soon be raised in the state Senate with less than a month left of the current legislative session to go.

  • May 13, 2021

    Chauvin Prosecutor On Fighting For A Guilty Verdict

    Jerry Blackwell describes himself as "the oddest duck" on the prosecution team that won the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin last month for the murder of George Floyd. Here, Blackwell speaks with Law360 about navigating the larger significance of the case and his strategy at trial.

  • May 07, 2021

    Chauvin, Ex-Officers Face Civil Rights Charges Over Floyd

    A Minnesota federal grand jury has indicted Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers with civil rights violations for their lethal arrest of George Floyd, which sparked a nationwide racial justice movement, according to documents unsealed Friday.

  • May 04, 2021

    Justices Press DOJ Over 180 In Crack Case

    The Biden administration's 180-degree turn in a case about crack sentencing disparities appears to have caught several U.S. Supreme Court justices off guard, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett pressing a government attorney during oral arguments Tuesday to explain the Department of Justice's process for changing positions.

  • May 02, 2021

    State Lawmakers Tackle Qualified Immunity Defense

    New Mexico is the latest state to enact legislation seeking to curtail a judicial doctrine that many say has effectively barred police officers from facing liability for many types of constitutional violations. The move signals a state-led front in a growing movement.

  • May 02, 2021

    Jones Marks Shift In High Court's Juvenile Justice Rulings

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that juveniles convicted of murder can be sentenced to life in prison without parole without being found "permanently incorrigible" is a marked reversal for the justices, who had been limiting harsher penalties for minors in recent years, attorneys say.

  • May 02, 2021

    The Vera Institute's Jamila Hodge On Reshaping Prosecution

    People working to end anti-Black racism in the United States' criminal justice system recognize that the struggle does not end with addressing officers' use of force. For Jamila "Jami" Hodge, it also requires tackling prosecutorial biases in tandem with both the government and the Black and brown communities most devastated by state violence.

  • May 02, 2021

    Advocates Decry Prosecution Of Refugees In Greece

    The prosecution of a refugee father over his son’s death on their journey to Europe is part of a larger effort to criminalize migration in the area, which is raising alarms for human rights groups.

  • April 27, 2021

    Justices Question Broadening Reentry Paths For Deportees

    Several U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday seemed opposed to widening the path to reentry for immigrants who were previously deported for a crime that would no longer merit deportation.

  • April 22, 2021

    Justices Refuse To Limit Life Sentences For Minors

    Juveniles convicted of murder can be sentenced to life in prison without parole without being found to be "permanently incorrigible" by a judge, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

  • April 20, 2021

    Chauvin Convicted Of All Charges In Floyd Slaying

    After less than 12 hours of deliberation, a Minnesota state jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd.

  • April 20, 2021

    Justices Mull If Appeals Courts Can Look Outside Trial Record

    The U.S. Supreme Court appeared unconvinced on Tuesday that an appeals court reviewing a case for plain error based on an intervening high court decision should not be allowed to reach outside the trial record.

  • April 18, 2021

    Stanford Prof's Book Explores US Violence And The Law

    David Alan Sklansky’s career as a labor attorney, federal prosecutor and, now, law school professor showed him that violence is inconsistently defined and applied by U.S. courts and law enforcement. In his latest book, he investigates what led to flimsy definitions of violent crime, as well as the injustices that stem from them.

  • April 18, 2021

    Chauvin Jurors Will Grapple With Videos, Expert Opinions

    Jurors deciding the fate of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, have plenty of evidence to sift through, including videos of Floyd's death and testimony from more than 40 witnesses. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Chauvin's trial.

  • April 18, 2021

    Andrea James On Second Chances For Incarcerated Women

    President Joe Biden declared April "Second Chance Month" acknowledging that incarcerated people deserve second chances, but he hasn't given second chances to 100 incarcerated women by granting them clemency, according to former criminal defense attorney turned activist Andrea James.

  • April 18, 2021

    Milbank Secures Wi-Fi Settlement For NYC Homeless Shelters

    The city of New York on April 5 committed to providing all family shelters in the five boroughs with wireless internet to allow students housed in the shelter systems access to remote education during the pandemic, following a settlement obtained by attorneys from Milbank LLP and the Legal Aid Society.

  • April 18, 2021

    NJ's Police Use-Of-Force Database Falls Short, Experts Say

    New Jersey's attorney general announced the creation of an online database this month that tracks how often police officers are using force, but some experts say the state is still lagging behind many others when it comes to police accountability.

  • April 14, 2021

    Legal Industry's Gender Woes Worse In Criminal Justice Field

    Female attorneys and judges in criminal justice face sexism and discrimination similar to that faced by women throughout the legal industry, but the nature of their work intensifies these issues, a panel of women said at an American Bar Association webinar.

  • April 04, 2021

    How This High Court Case Could Affect Police Abuse Suits

    A case involving a Brooklyn man who sued the New York Police Department on misconduct allegations, now before the U.S. Supreme Court, has the potential for restricting — or broadening — access to malicious prosecutions actions around the country for the foreseeable future.

  • April 04, 2021

    Study Links Not Prosecuting Misdemeanors To Lower Crime

    A new academic paper finds electing not to prosecute nonviolent misdemeanor defendants may reduce the likelihood of their subsequent criminal activity, a conclusion that comes as a wave of progressive prosecutors push for new approaches to handling low-level offenses.

Expert Analysis

  • Book Review: Did The High Court Cause Mass Incarceration?

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    William Pizzi's argument in "The Supreme Court's Role in Mass Incarceration" that the U.S. Supreme Court is responsible for the high rate of incarceration is compelling, but his criticism overlooks the positive dimensions of the criminal procedure decisions under Chief Justice Earl Warren, says U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

  • Pandemic Should Propel New Prison Reforms

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    Prison releases resulting from coronavirus and earlier legislation proved that not all nonviolent offenders need to be jailed; this should spur penal system reform that includes expanded probationary alternatives, tax incentives for companies that employ ex-offenders and government transparency to ensure unbiased sentencing, says Abbe Lowell at Winston & Strawn.

  • Finding A Path Forward To Regulate The Legal Industry

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    Gerald Knapton at Ropers Majeski analyzes U.S. and U.K. experiments to explore alternative business structures and independent oversight for law firms, which could lead to innovative approaches to increasing access to legal services.

  • Remote Court Procedures Can Help Domestic Abuse Victims

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    Courts have recently adopted remote procedures to make domestic violence victims feel safer during the COVID-19 crisis, but they should consider preserving these trauma-sensitive adaptations post-pandemic as well, say Ashley Carter and Richard Kelley at the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project.

  • Law Commission's New Idea For Confiscation Orders Is Unfair

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    The recent proposal by the Law Commission of England and Wales to recall prisoners who fail to settle their confiscation orders when they have already served a sentence for nonpayment would, in effect, punish them twice for the same act, says Brian Swan at Stokoe Partnership.

  • Barrett Should Be Questioned On Children's Access To Courts

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    At a time when children's lives are so threatened by avoidable climate change chaos, understanding U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's views on what standing future generations have to seek declaratory relief in Article III courts should be an essential part of her confirmation hearings, says Julia Olson at Our Children's Trust.

  • A Smarter Approach To Measuring Prosecutorial Success

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    To improve their ability to dispense justice, prosecutors should measure the efficacy of their work based on metrics such as caseload distribution, timely case handling and racial disparity trends — instead of the traditionally used conviction rates and number of trials, say Anthony Thompson at the New York University School of Law and Miriam Krinsky at Fair and Just Prosecution.

  • States Shouldn't Hinder Local Gov'ts In COVID-19 Tenant Aid

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    In the face of increasing state preemption and absent other government intervention, states should explicitly allow city and county policymakers to help renters in order to avoid a pandemic-prompted eviction crisis, say Emily Benfer at Wake Forest University School of Law and Nestor Davidson at Fordham University School of Law.

  • An Abuse Of Prosecutorial Discretion In Breonna Taylor Case

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    The prosecution's decision in the Breonna Taylor grand jury proceedings to present a crucial, disputed fact — whether the officers knocked and announced themselves when they arrived at Taylor's apartment — as a settled question represents the partiality police officers often enjoy from prosecutors, says attorney Geoffrey D. Kearney.

  • Immigration Appeals Proposal Would Erode Due Process

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    A recent Trump administration proposal to limit appellate review of immigration cases would eviscerate the few existing legal protections for immigrants and asylum seekers at a time when they are already routinely denied due process in court, says Lynn Pearson at the Tahirih Justice Center.

  • 11th Circ. Ruling Doesn't Lower Qualified Immunity Bar

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    While a video recording in Cantu v. City of Dothan — a recent Eleventh Circuit case involving a fatal shooting by a police officer — allowed the plaintiffs to clear the difficult qualified immunity hurdle, the court's ruling does not make it easier for most victims to surmount the defense, says Adriana Collado-Hudak at Greenspoon Marder.

  • Reforming Public Defense Is Crucial For Criminal Justice

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    By resisting investment in public defender offices, states and counties are overlooking the best opportunity to ensure justice for vulnerable criminal defendants and ferret out police, prosecutors and judges who cut corners — but there is some movement on the ground that warrants cautious optimism, says Jonathan Rapping at Atlanta's John Marshall Law School.

  • COVID-19 Crisis Should Steer NY Toward Better Court System

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    Over the last six months, it has become clear that many New York court proceedings can happen remotely, and we can use these new technological capabilities to create a more humane, efficient and economically responsible court system, says Joseph Frumin at The Legal Aid Society.

  • Pretrial Risk Assessment Is Biased And Indefensible

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    The Conference of Chief Justices' continuing support for the use of problematic pretrial risk assessment algorithms designed to predict criminal behavior has exacerbated disparities in the justice system and has likely increased incarceration across the U.S., says Jeffrey Clayton at the American Bail Coalition.

  • To Eliminate Food Inequality, We Must Confront The Past

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    To tackle low-income communities' decadeslong struggle with access to healthy food, which the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated, we must first understand how food deserts are a product of policies that perpetuate racial segregation, says Jessica Giesen at Kelley Kronenberg.

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