Access to Justice

  • April 12, 2020

    Can Law Enforcement Handle Scofflaws Amid A Pandemic?

    Fines of up to $5,000, felony charges for misdemeanor crimes and a woman incarcerated in a trailer behind the local jail: Despite efforts to maintain voluntary compliance with public health orders spurred by COVID-19, law enforcement is testing a range of tactics for scofflaws who endanger themselves and others.

  • April 09, 2020

    Calif. District Courts Want Speedy Trial Act Deadlines Paused

    California's Eastern and Central Districts have asked the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit to suspend Speedy Trial Act deadlines, arguing that their strained judicial resources won't allow them to comply in light of backlogs caused by the novel coronavirus.

  • April 09, 2020

    Mass. Judge Says Virus-Prone Detainees Meet Class Criteria

    A Massachusetts federal judge has certified a class of immigrant detainees seeking to be released from a county jail that allegedly lacks adequate protections against the coronavirus, saying that we are now in "a world brought to its knees by the pandemic."

  • April 05, 2020

    COVID-19 Makes 'Strange Bedfellows' Of LA Defenders, DAs

    When attorneys felt Los Angeles’ courthouses were slow to respond to the coronavirus threat, a set of frequent adversaries reached across the aisle. The public defenders’ and district attorneys’ unions jointly asked that courthouses shutter, saying they’d endangered lawyers and their clients.

  • April 05, 2020

    'No Release' Injunction In NY Could Be A Blueprint Elsewhere

    A court decision blocking the New York field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from using its so-called "no release" policy for certain people detained before a hearing is being hailed by immigrant advocates as a key victory that could set an important standard for other parts of the country.

  • April 05, 2020

    Simpson Thacher Helps Upend Calif. Murder Conviction

    Up to the moment last month when a judge told him he was a free man, Jeremy Puckett refused to believe freedom was a real possibility.

  • April 05, 2020

    New York's About-Face On Bail Reform Wins Few Fans

    Just three months after historic bail reforms took effect in New York, the state Legislature agreed last week to roll back some of the changes in an effort to placate fierce opposition from law enforcement and conservatives. But while many reform advocates aren’t pleased with the results, law enforcement isn’t cheering either.

  • April 03, 2020

    Judge Warns NYC Prisons To 'Do Better' On Attorney Access

    A Brooklyn federal judge on Friday chastised the Federal Bureau of Prisons for failing to provide New York City inmates adequate access to their attorneys during the coronavirus pandemic, giving the agency until Monday to explain why it wasn't allowing more phone calls.

  • April 02, 2020

    Fla. Judge Preps For Video Trial In Ex-Felon Voting Rights Suit

    A Florida federal judge is planning to press forward in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic with a bench trial in a battle over a requirement that ex-felons pay all fines and fees before being able to vote, despite concerns from the state about the video conference format.

  • April 01, 2020

    Prison Says It Tested Just 2 More Inmates Despite Virus Cases

    The Federal Bureau of Prisons alarmed inmates' counsel when it revealed to a New York federal judge on Wednesday that a Brooklyn federal prison had tested only two additional inmates — out of 1,700 — after five staff members and one prisoner were found to be infected with the coronavirus.

  • March 29, 2020

    Lynch Appt. Raises Hope For Atty Access Fix Amid Pandemic

    Even as the potential spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails sets off alarm bells, New York advocates are hopeful that involvement by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch will lead to a quick resolution for people in detention at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center in a suit over attorney access.

  • March 29, 2020

    Pro Bono Counsel Leaders On Mobilizing Against A Pandemic

    As cases of COVID-19 explode across the country, law firms are mobilizing to provide more pro bono support to legal aid groups and nonprofit organizations. Rebecca Greenhalgh and Steve Schulman, co-presidents of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, spoke with Law360 about key steps to take when responding to the pandemic.

  • March 27, 2020

    NY Judges Release 122 Inmates As Virus Cases Spike In Jails

    New York state court judges ordered the immediate release of 122 inmates detained in New York City jails on Thursday and Friday, finding it was a violation of those vulnerable individuals' rights to lock them up during the coronavirus outbreak, which had infected 183 individuals in the jails as of Friday afternoon.

  • March 27, 2020

    After $100M Ask, Legal Aid Funder Nets $50M For Relief Work

    As part of a $2 trillion relief package, Congress allocated $50 million to the Legal Services Corporation to help meet an explosion in legal needs stemming from the pandemic. The LSC, America’s largest single funder of civil legal aid, had requested double that amount, but its chief says that money will still make a difference.

  • March 24, 2020

    COVID-19 Border Restraint At Odds With Refugee Obligations

    The Trump administration's latest border restrictions, handed down under a rarely used public health statute to combat the coronavirus pandemic, likely flout U.S. obligations to not return people to countries where they will be persecuted.

  • March 23, 2020

    Kagan Joins Conservatives In Insanity Defense Ruling

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan aligned with her conservative colleagues Monday to uphold Kansas' narrow insanity defense, a ruling her fellow liberals say rips out "the core of a defense that has existed for centuries."

  • March 22, 2020

    How Coronavirus May Change Criminal Justice

    As COVID-19 ravages communities across the country, the world’s most incarceration-heavy criminal justice system is slowing down. Police are releasing arrestees; prosecutors are dropping low-level charges; parole officials are loosening rules. Could this pandemic change the way law is enforced going forward?

  • March 22, 2020

    Blacks, Latinos Bear Brunt Of Parole-Based Jail Time In NY

    Blacks and Latinos in New York state are supervised under parole, jailed before parole violation hearings and incarcerated for parole violations at disproportionate rates compared with whites, according to a recent report by Columbia University’s Justice Lab.

  • March 22, 2020

    ABA Task Force Chief On Meeting The Challenge Of COVID-19

    Jim Sandman, who recently stepped down from his nine-year post as president of the Legal Services Corp., America’s largest legal aid funder, is heading up an American Bar Association task force on the coronavirus outbreak. He told Law360 the pandemic could fundamentally change the way legal services are delivered in the future.

  • March 22, 2020

    Inside The Fight To Block Evictions During A Pandemic

    Across the country, tenants and their advocates are demanding a moratorium on evictions for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, adjusting their tactics on a daily basis to stop visits to crowded courthouses and prevent homelessness.

  • March 22, 2020

    2nd Circ. Urges Atty Access For Detainees Amid Pandemic

    The Federal Defenders of New York made progress in its fight for consistent access to clients in detention on Friday when the Second Circuit ruled that a mediator should be quickly appointed to help craft new protocols amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

  • March 18, 2020

    NY Landlords Can File Cases Despite Eviction Moratorium

    New York landlords can file eviction and nonpayment cases this week despite a statewide eviction moratorium that took effect Tuesday in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the court confirmed, raising concerns about close human contact and tenant anxiety in a health crisis.

  • March 16, 2020

    Law360's 2020 Access To Justice Editorial Advisory Board

    Law360 is pleased to announce the formation of its 2020 Access to Justice Editorial Advisory Board.

  • March 15, 2020

    MoFo Secures $1.5M Over Facebook-Based Wrongful Arrests

    An obscure California statute and social media connections led to the arrest of two men who found themselves facing potential lifetime prison sentences until a pro bono team from Morrison & Foerster stepped in.

  • March 15, 2020

    Justices Put Juvenile Sentencing Back On The Front Burner

    Less than two weeks after a new Virginia law led to the premature dismissal of Lee Boyd Malvo’s U.S. Supreme Court petition challenging juvenile life without parole sentences, the justices have selected a replacement case that could answer long-standing questions about cruel and unusual punishment.

Expert Analysis

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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