Access to Justice

  • 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.

  • January 12, 2020

    Simpson Thacher Helps Thwart Police Bias In Mississippi

    Simpson Thacher attorneys helped win a landmark consent decree to end long-standing discriminatory policing practices in Mississippi’s highly segregated Madison County, where black residents said they were subjected to warrantless searches and targeted roadblocks.

  • January 12, 2020

    With DA Out, What’s Next For Curtis Flowers?

    Mississippi prosecutor Doug Evans, who tried defendant Curtis Flowers six times for the same crime, has taken the rare step of recusing himself from the case. With a new attorney general possibly taking over prosecution, and a motion to dismiss pending, Flowers may have “a moment of hope.”

  • January 12, 2020

    House OKs Bills To Help Ex-Prisoners Start Businesses

    The U.S. House of Representatives has passed two bipartisan bills that would offer entrepreneurship training and mentorship to people leaving federal prisons with the goal of reducing recidivism by helping former inmates gain employment and overcome the stigma of a criminal record.

  • January 12, 2020

    Sex Predator Case Tests 'Right To Appear' In Court

    What it really means to be present in court — and whether the use of video technology counts — recently took center stage at the Texas Supreme Court, as justices grappled with that due process question in the context of a state law intended to protect the public from sex criminals.

  • January 10, 2020

    Small Firm Can't Slip Prisoner's Pro Bono Civil Rights Case

    When a judge tells a private lawyer to represent someone for free, does the lawyer have to do it?

  • January 05, 2020

    Why Preventing Jury Selection Bias May Need A Fresh Look

    Connecticut is preparing to take a hard look at the long-simmering issue of how bias might affect jury selection, beginning a process that could close loopholes in the law and address concerns that experts have raised for years.

  • January 05, 2020

    MoFo Helps Afghan Defenders Take On Corruption Crackdown

    As Afghanistan’s corruption court has targeted more low-income government officials — and fewer of the high-ranking ones it was designed to prosecute — public defenders in the war-torn country have turned to Morrison & Foerster’s white collar attorneys for guidance.

  • January 05, 2020

    Wanted In Pennsylvania: A Fairer Justice System For Minors

    Pennsylvania’s plan to examine reforms to its juvenile justice system should tackle the technical parole violations that can send young people to detention centers and squarely address the system’s disparate impact black people, according to some advocates, who say recent actions in other states offer a humane path forward.

  • January 05, 2020

    For Curtis Flowers, A Long Road To Bail

    Last month, Curtis Flowers was released on bail after 23 years in prison. He’s been tried six times since 1996 for the same quadruple murder, and he could still face a seventh trial. Law360 takes a look at how we got here.

  • January 02, 2020

    Philly Inks $4M Settlement With Wrongfully Convicted Man

    The city of Philadelphia has agreed to pay more than $4 million to settle a federal lawsuit brought by a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for nearly a quarter century before being exonerated for a murder he maintains he didn’t commit.

  • December 15, 2019

    Shearman Wins Man's Release After 33 Years In Prison

    The evidence that would eventually clear Jack Sagin of a murder conviction came to light in 2009, but it took an intense, decadelong legal battle and the pro bono help of Shearman & Sterling LLP before he was able to walk out of prison.

  • December 15, 2019

    High Court Rebuff Highlights Post-Conviction Quagmire

    When a Supreme Court justice last week singled out allegations in one unusual pro se petition, it highlighted how Louisiana judges prevented habeas corpus review for hundreds of prisoners — a scheme exposed by a suicide note — and what some see as larger procedural problems with post-conviction proceedings.

  • December 15, 2019

    The Other Access To Justice Rulings That Mattered In 2019

    The U.S. Supreme Court often dominates legal news headlines, but some state and appellate court decisions have even bigger impacts on access to justice. Here’s four landmark rulings from 2019 you might have missed.

  • December 15, 2019

    This Global Key To Unlocking Justice Is Reaching More People

    International efforts to increase the number of children registered at birth — which can help a person access courts, banks, schools and more — have paid off in the past decade, though further gains could require capitalizing on technology and existing community programs, according to a new report.

  • December 08, 2019

    As Parole Drives Incarceration, Can NY’s Bar Spur Reforms?

    Parole violations like missed meetings and unpaid fees are the reason why an estimated 40% of those in in New York state prison wind up behind bars. Now, the state bar association is calling on the governor and Legislature to address the “woefully high reincarceration rate.”

  • December 08, 2019

    Reform Alliance’s CLO On Overhauling Probation And Parole

    Backed by Jay-Z, Meek Mill and Van Jones, the Reform Alliance aims to transform the justice system’s use of community supervision through parole and probation. Law360 caught up with Monique Haughton Worrell, the alliance’s chief legal officer, to learn why change is needed.

  • December 08, 2019

    Appearances Matter If Jurists Want To Talk Justice Reform

    Discipline meted out against a now former judge who slammed Black Lives Matter should serve as a warning that jurists looking to join the conversations around criminal justice reform can all too easily raise questions of bias if they aren’t careful with their comments.

  • December 06, 2019

    US Accused Of Denying Asylum-Seekers Access To Counsel

    Immigrants seeking asylum at the southern border are being wrongfully deprived of legal counsel, according to a new lawsuit filed in D.C. federal court that claims U.S. officials are detaining asylum-seekers in facilities that are effectively “legal black holes.”

  • December 06, 2019

    Arrest Records Aren't Fodder For Sentences, 3rd Circ. Says

    Federal judges cannot rely on an arrest record, as opposed to a conviction record, when determining an appropriate sentence, the Third Circuit has ruled in the case of a man sentenced to 85 years in prison for various drug and weapons possession charges.

  • December 01, 2019

    'Why Is My City Monitoring Me?'

    More and more cities are using automated license plate readers to scan millions of license plates, generating a wave of privacy concerns and calls for more regulations to increase transparency about how the technology is being used.

  • December 01, 2019

    How Dechert Lent Muscle To Man's Forced Confession Claim

    With the aid of Dechert LLP attorneys and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, Willie Veasy was able to prove something he’d steadfastly maintained during the nearly three decades he spent in prison for murder: his innocence.

  • December 01, 2019

    Prosecutors May Hold Key To New Start For Trafficking Victims

    As survivors of human trafficking try to clear their criminal records of related offenses, prosecutors may play a crucial gatekeeping function. They should help streamline the process, not throw up roadblocks, according to a new report.

  • December 01, 2019

    NJ Bail Reform Sees Strides Despite Growing Pains

    Shortly after Robert Bianchi became Morris County, New Jersey's top prosecutor in 2007, and a decade before the state implemented significant bail reforms, he combed through a list of old cases and discovered something troubling.

  • November 21, 2019

    Diversity, Independence Concerns Again Roil NY Court Reform

    The battle lines between supporters and opponents of a sweeping proposal to reform New York's courts continued to harden at a second legislative hearing on Thursday, with concerns over diversity and stripping judges of their independence emerging as the flies in the ointment of an otherwise well received proposal.

Expert Analysis

  • 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.

  • How To Stop Civil Jury Trials From Becoming Extinct

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    If we wait to take action until we identify all the reasons civil jury trials are in decline, trials might disappear altogether. Let's address the causes we've already identified using these important jury innovations, says Stephen Susman, executive director of the Civil Jury Project at NYU School of Law.

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