Access to Justice

  • 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.

  • January 26, 2020

    Perjury Scandal Can’t Blot Out Prosecutor’s Conspiracy Claim

    Kim Gardner, St. Louis’ first black top state prosecutor, has accused the city and its police union of a racist conspiracy to undermine her. Critics say it’s a ploy to distract from a special prosecutor investigation against her office, but experts agree she’s faced an unusual level of scrutiny — and threats.

  • January 26, 2020

    Legal Aid Org’s Departing Chief Praised For Funding Boost

    The long-serving president of the Legal Services Corporation, who recently announced that he is leaving his post atop the country’s largest funder of legal aid, will be remembered for fostering innovation and for increasing LSC’s funding despite calls from the Trump administration to defund it entirely, those in the legal aid community say.

  • January 12, 2020

    Fla. Firm Launches Novel Practice Group For Children’s Law

    Most attorneys that work specifically to protect children work through nonprofits or legal aid groups, but Florida-based firm Kelley Kronenberg is cutting a different path.

  • January 12, 2020

    Lawmakers Push To Extend Atty-Client Shield To Prison Emails

    For defense attorneys, talking privately with federally incarcerated clients requires either an in-person visit or a specially requested unmonitored phone call. But a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House aims to increase access by affording attorney client privilege to a more convenient forum: prison emails.

Expert Analysis

  • High Court's Juror Exclusion Ruling Does Not Do Enough

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    In Flowers v. Mississippi, the U.S. Supreme Court extended the rhetoric that exclusion of even one juror based on race is unconstitutional, but without further guidance, the principle the court seeks to uphold will continue to falter, says Kate Margolis of Bradley Arant.

  • Artisanal Miners' Roadblocks To Justice: Is A Path Clearing?

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    Efforts to give small-scale gold miners, who face displacement, pollution and violence at sites around the world, access to fair and functioning justice systems have met with apathy from politicians and fierce resistance from powerful business lobbies, but there are signs that this may be changing, says Mark Pieth, president of the Basel Institute on Governance.

  • High Court Ruling Highlights Double Jeopardy Complications

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    Although the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Gamble does not change the application of the double jeopardy clause as interpreted by federal courts, the decision reinforces the significant impact of dual prosecutions and the risks for corporate and individual defendants, say Laurel Gift and Randall Hsia of Schnader Harrison.

  • High Court's 'Separate Sovereigns' Ruling Is Good For Tribes

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    The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Gamble v. U.S. — reaffirming the so-called separate sovereigns doctrine — preserves tribal prosecutors' autonomy and ability to respond promptly to offenses without worrying about the legal repercussions on federal prosecutions, say Steven Gordon and Philip Baker-Shenk of Holland & Knight.

  • Border Phone Search Questions Continue In Federal Court

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    A Massachusetts federal court's eventual decision on cellphone searches at the U.S. border in Alasaad v. Nielsen will further illustrate the differences in how federal courts apply the U.S. Supreme Court's 2014 decision in Riley v. California to the warrant-requirement exception for border searches, says Sharon Barney at Leech Tishman.

  • US Misdemeanor System Should Honor Principles Of Justice

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    The U.S. misdemeanor system — which represents the vast majority of the country’s criminal system — is under-regulated, rarely scrutinized and rife with official rule-breaking. It's time we brought this enormous aspect of our democracy into the modern legal era, says Alexandra Natapoff of University of California, Irvine School of Law.

  • Does Multidistrict Litigation Deny Plaintiffs Due Process?

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    Judges in multidistrict litigation consistently appoint lead plaintiffs lawyers based on their experience, war chests and ability to get along with everyone. But evidence suggests that these repeat players often make deals riddled with self-interest and provisions that goad plaintiffs into settling, says Elizabeth Chamblee Burch of the University of Georgia School of Law.

  • 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.

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