Access to Justice

  • March 15, 2020

    Why Is Unbundled Legal Help So Hard To Find?

    Across the country, an estimated 60% of state court litigants have no lawyer to help them. One way to close the justice gap is unbundled services, a form of limited legal representation, but cultural barriers and a lack of understanding have prevented widespread use of the concept.

  • March 15, 2020

    Iran, Cameroon Lead Worldwide Declines In The Rule Of Law

    The rule of law is declining more than it is advancing in a majority of the countries examined by the World Justice Project, with Iran and Cameroon seeing the largest drops, the organization has found in an annual report.

  • March 13, 2020

    ABA Assembles Task Force On COVID-19 Legal Needs

    Debt collection suits, evictions, insurance and government benefits claims — legal problems like these are always challenging, especially for low-income people who often lack legal counsel.

  • March 08, 2020

    NYC Indigent Defense Panels See Drain Of Local Lawyers

    Struggling with burnout and stagnant pay, New York lawyers are fleeing a program that provides experienced private counsel for poor defendants and people in family court, putting a strain on the system and chipping away at a career stepping stone for locally trained attorneys.

  • March 08, 2020

    Can The Courts Break Transgender Felons Out Of ID Prison?

    When transgender people are stuck using legal names that don’t conform to their gender identity, every interaction with the government, an employer or others who ask for their official identification can put them at risk of being outed and ostracized. For residents of nine states, certain convictions add another barrier to legally changing their names, sometimes for life.

  • March 08, 2020

    3 Ways Automation Can Enhance Access To Justice

    The delivery of legal services to low income consumers is being transformed by automation technology such as TurboTax-like forms for people facing eviction, and that transformation only shows signs of picking up steam as researchers continue to mine its potential for legal aid.

  • March 08, 2020

    Georgetown Prof Explains The Rise Of Nonlawyer Navigators

    At a time when more and more people have legal problems but don’t have lawyers, can people who aren’t lawyers help? Georgetown University Law Center senior fellow Mary McClymont talks with Law360 about the ways in which nonlawyers are increasingly playing a role in closing the justice gap.

  • March 01, 2020

    Justices Show Limits To Juries' Say In Death Penalty Cases

    Last week, a divided U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn a judge-ordered death sentence that no jury ever sanctioned, highlighting the unusually muddled legality of an estimated 97 death sentences around the country.

  • March 01, 2020

    Sidley's Push For Retrial Pays Off In Excessive Force Case

    More than six years of litigation and what became a six-figure verdict allegedly all started with Christopher Davis wanting some milk.

  • March 01, 2020

    Mooted DC Sniper Case Won't End Fight Over Juvenile Lifers

    Juvenile justice reformers rejoiced last week after Virginia passed a law extending parole eligibility to people serving life in prison for crimes they committed as minors. Though the development moots the closely watched D.C. sniper case at the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices have already begun considering five related juvenile life petitions.

  • 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

    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

    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

    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 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 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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

Expert Analysis

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Stripping The False Premises From Civil Justice Problems

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    When I began researching access to justice in 2004, there were two settled beliefs about civil justice problems so obvious that few bothered to investigate them. Both turned out to be false, says Rebecca Sandefur, associate professor of sociology and law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Cy Pres Awards Are The Best Answer

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    The argument that cy pres awards violate the rights of absent class members is wrong on many levels and ignores the fact that prohibiting such distributions creates far more problems than it solves, says John Campbell, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

  • Maybe Virtual Reality Juries Can Facilitate Access To Justice

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    Jury service is a terrible user experience and an unpredictable disruption. What if the courts leveraged virtual reality technology to allow jurors to serve remotely? asks Stephen Kane, founder of online dispute resolution platform FairClaims and a fellow of Stanford CodeX Center for Legal Informatics.

  • A Key Legal Reform To Fight The Child Sex Abuse Epidemic

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    With child sex predators victimizing, on average, over 100 children in their lifetimes, the implicit danger of retaining state statutes of limitation for prosecution of these crimes could not be more obvious, says Michael Dolce of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

  • Blockchain Can Empower Stateless Refugees

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    Innovative blockchain-based projects providing stateless refugees with forms of identification, digital assets and educational opportunities could change the rules for this vulnerable population, say Amy Schmitz of the University of Missouri School of Law and Jeff Aresty of Internetbar.org.

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