Access to Justice

  • January 04, 2024

    Nonprofit, Paralegals Sue To Take Down NC Legal Advice Law

    A North Carolina nonprofit is challenging a state law banning anyone but a fully licensed attorney from offering legal advice, saying in a federal lawsuit Thursday that the regulations amount to an unconstitutional restraint on free speech in violation of the First Amendment.

  • January 04, 2024

    Judge Lauds Trans Women Behind Colo. Prison Housing Deal

    A Colorado state judge on Thursday appeared inclined to approve $2.1 million in payouts for currently and formerly incarcerated transgender women and new housing options to settle their class action against state prison officials, with a named plaintiff calling the deal a "blueprint for other states."

  • December 22, 2023

    Biden Issues Pardons For Federal Marijuana Offenses

    President Joe Biden has announced unconditional pardons to anyone who has used, possessed or attempted to possess marijuana on federal lands, regardless of whether they have been convicted or charged.

  • December 20, 2023

    Pa. Justices Say State Must Notify Inmates Of Deduction Hike

    The State of Pennsylvania violated an inmate's constitutional right to due process by garnishing a larger portion of the wages and gifts he received without providing him notice or the opportunity to protest the change, the state's highest court ruled.

  • December 19, 2023

    NC Residents Ask For Cert. In Court Software Class Action

    A group of North Carolina residents have asked for certification in their proposed class action alleging the state's new digital court system has led to hundreds of wrongful arrests and detentions, with all facing common issues sufficient to satisfy class requirements.

  • December 15, 2023

    NJ Atty Changes History For Wrongly Executed Black Soldiers

    More than a century after 19 soldiers were hanged for mutiny following trials that were marred by racism, a New Jersey attorney and descendant of one of the servicemen recently helped convince the U.S. Army to overturn the soldiers' convictions.

  • December 15, 2023

    New Eckert Seamans Pro Bono Chair Looks To Build Bridges

    As he takes over as the new chair of the firm's pro bono committee, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott LLC attorney Joshua Hill says he is looking to adopt a more holistic, firmwide approach to identifying and assigning pro bono projects.

  • December 15, 2023

    The Biggest Access To Justice Issues Of 2023

    High-profile death penalty cases, voting rights, civil forfeiture and fair pay for legal aid workers were among the biggest issues this year impacting the rights of disadvantaged people facing challenges in the American justice system.

  • December 14, 2023

    4th Circ. Pauses Fight Over SC Non-Atty Legal Advice Law

    The Fourth Circuit agreed Wednesday to pause a lawsuit brought by South Carolina's NAACP chapter challenging the legality of a state law that bars non-attorneys from giving legal advice while the merits of the NAACP eviction relief program at issue are under consideration at the state-court level.

  • December 14, 2023

    Attys, Advocates Urge NY Gov. To Sign Appeals Reform Bill

    More than 350 attorneys, advocates and organizations on Thursday urged New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that will expand an appellate court's ability to examine if evidence in criminal cases was uncovered unconstitutionally by law enforcement.

  • December 08, 2023

    The Purgatory Docket: Mass. Judge Leaves Cases In Limbo

    A Massachusetts federal judge has dozens of long-unresolved motions on his docket, highlighting what experts say is a problem that is difficult to solve amid lifetime appointments, no firm deadlines to resolve civil disputes or any form of discipline for judges if cases stall unnecessarily.

  • December 01, 2023

    How Trauma-Informed Lawyering Can Help Clients Heal

    The story of an Olympic gymnast-turned-lawyer illustrates the emotional and psychological challenges that trauma survivors can face, how these challenges can play out in litigation, and how people who have experienced trauma can bounce back.

  • December 01, 2023

    Gibson Dunn Helps Vindicate LA Reporter After Protest Arrest

    Three years after a reporter with the Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate was tackled by sheriff's deputies and arrested while covering a protest, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP has helped secure a $700,000 settlement that the firm is hailing as a win for press freedom.

  • December 01, 2023

    A Mountain To Climb: The Inaccessibility Of Rural Courts

    Unlike the shortage of attorneys available to represent clients in rural areas, experts say there are an adequate number of courthouses to serve people living in remote areas of the country. It's getting to them that's the problem.

  • December 01, 2023

    Executions Concentrated In 5 States As Fairness Doubts Grow

    Only a handful of states executed people in 2023 as more Americans think the death penalty is carried out unfairly than fairly for the first time, according to a year-end report released Friday by the Death Penalty Information Center.

  • November 30, 2023

    Gap In Access To Legal Assistance Remains Wide, ABA Finds

    The United States is home to the largest number of attorneys in the world, and it has by far the highest number of lawyers per capita, yet they are mostly concentrated in a few urban areas, leaving entire swaths of the country as legal deserts, according to a new report by the American Bar Association.

  • November 29, 2023

    Local Gov't Org Backs Baltimore In Incarceration Pay Fight

    An advocacy organization for local governments backed Baltimore County, Maryland, in its effort to convince the Fourth Circuit to uphold a ruling that people who performed work at a county recycling plant while incarcerated were not considered employees under federal law, telling the court that reversal would ultimately harm incarcerated people.

  • November 28, 2023

    Justices Wary Of Ga. Retrial Law: 'An Acquittal Is An Acquittal'

    The U.S. Supreme Court seemed dubious Tuesday that a Georgia law allowing for the re-prosecution of all criminal charges in certain cases with contradictory jury verdicts, including partial acquittals, passes constitutional muster, bombarding the state's solicitor general with questions on how the law fits into the nation's tradition of respecting jury verdicts.

  • November 27, 2023

    Justices Hear Dueling Rules In ACCA Drug Definition Case

    The U.S. Supreme Court pointedly challenged the government Monday on its interpretation of a law that sets up a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for people convicted of repeated serious drug offenses who are later caught with firearms.

  • November 27, 2023

    Top State Judges To Tackle Public Interest 'Lawyer Deserts'

    A new committee composed of state Supreme Court chief justices and others will examine why fewer attorneys are going into public interest law, as well as the state of legal education and bar admissions processes more generally, according to an announcement Monday.

  • November 21, 2023

    Baltimore County Tells 4th Circ. Inmates Aren't Employees

    Inmates who performed work at a recycling plant in a county jail are not considered employees for the purposes of federal law because their work was rehabilitative in nature, Baltimore County told the Fourth Circuit, asking the court to keep its district court win.

  • November 20, 2023

    Plaintiffs Want NYC Jails Handed Over To Federal Receiver

    Plaintiffs in a decadelong class action challenging brutality by staff at New York City jails have asked a federal judge to appoint a federal receiver to take the helm of the troubled city jail system following record violence at its facilities, attorneys confirmed on Monday.

  • November 20, 2023

    Justices To Decide Jury's Role In Career Criminal Sentences

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to weigh in on whether a judge or jury should determine if a criminal defendant's prior convictions qualify them for enhanced sentencing under the Armed Career Criminal Act, a ruling an Indiana defendant and the U.S. Department of Justice agree belongs in the hands of jurors.

  • November 17, 2023

    They Are Mentally Ill; Some States Want Them Off Death Row

    Death rows across the country are filled with people suffering from severe forms of mental illness. Taking action in an area where the U.S. Supreme Court has not ventured, some states are now enacting or considering laws that would exclude those prisoners from capital punishment.

  • November 17, 2023

    Growing Movement Teaches Cops To Confront Misconduct

    After a string of high-profile incidents including the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, a growing number of law enforcement agencies are participating in a peer intervention program designed to empower police officers to step in when they see something that isn’t right, and to teach about the psychology of why people don’t always intervene.

Expert Analysis

  • Inside Immigration Court: The Pros, Cons Of Remote Hearings

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    Technology introduced during the pandemic has improved the quality and efficiency of virtual immigration court hearings, but concerns still linger over the court system's ability to provide full and complete simultaneous interpretation in these hearings, as well as its effect on due process, says Immigration Judge Mimi Tsankov.

  • How Attorneys Can Help Combat Anti-Asian Hate

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    Amid an exponential increase in violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, unique obstacles stand in the way of accountability and justice — but lawyers can effect powerful change by raising awareness, offering legal representation, advocating for victims’ rights and more, say attorneys at Gibson Dunn.

  • Well-Equipped Public Defenders Can Help Reduce Recidivism

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    Public defenders are uniquely positioned to connect clients with essential services that are proven to address the root drivers of crime, thus reducing recidivism and promoting public safety — but they need adequate resources to bring about this change, says Emily Galvin-Almanza at Partners for Justice.

  • Inside Immigration Court: Making The Case For Bond Release

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    Immigration Judge Samuel Cole offers a guide to help attorneys practicing in immigration court — against a backdrop of high stakes and fast-moving dockets — better prepare for bond hearings, so proceedings run more smoothly and with less delay.

  • LA County Should Loosen Strict Reentry Program Criteria

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    Los Angeles County’s recent fair chance ordinance proposal is an important step toward reducing recidivism, but the county should also make its reentry programs available to all formerly incarcerated individuals and focus on prerelease job training, say Sophia Lowe, Eleanor Pearson and Samuel Mistrano at USC.

  • Why Trump Sexual Abuse Verdict May Be Hard To Replicate

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    Survivors of sexual assault may be emboldened to file suit after writer E. Jean Carroll’s trial victory against former President Donald Trump, but before assigning too much significance to the verdict, it’s worth noting that the case’s unique constellation of factors may make it the exception rather than the rule, says Jessica Roth at Cardozo School of Law.

  • New Ideas For Using Litigation Finance To Close Justice Gap

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    Bob Koneck at Woodsford outlines new ways in which the growing litigation finance industry could work with foundations, law firms and schools to address the urgent access to justice crisis.

  • Meeting The Legal Aid Needs Of Human Trafficking Survivors

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    Human trafficking survivors have a wide range of unmet legal needs, but there are several ways law firms and attorneys can provide more comprehensive and trauma-informed support, say Sarah Dohoney Byrne at Moore & Van Allen and Renata Parras at Paul Hastings.

  • Broader Problems Remain After Justices' DNA Test Ruling

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    The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week in Reed v. Goertz straightforwardly resolves a statute of limitations question on post-conviction DNA testing, but it does not address the underlying issue that judges remain hostile to granting access to new evidence of innocence, much less relief based on that new evidence, says Brandon Garrett at Duke University.

  • It's Time For Lawyers To Stand Up For Climate Justice

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    The anniversary this week of the Deepwater Horizon disaster offers an opportunity for attorneys to embrace the practice of just transition lawyering — leveraging our skills to support communities on the front lines of climate change and environmental catastrophe as they pursue rebuilding and transformation, says Amy Laura Cahn at Taproot Earth.

  • Lessons On Litigating Wrongful Death Cases Against The BOP

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    With the process of litigating wrongful death claims against the Federal Bureau of Prisons littered with roadblocks, attorneys at HWG share some key lessons for navigating these challenges to ensure families can pursue justice for loved ones who died in custody.

  • Eviction Cases Need Tiered Legal Help, Not Unlimited Counsel

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    The concept of right to counsel in civil cases, particularly in the context of evictions, is hotly debated, but rather than giving every tenant full representation regardless of the merits of their case, we should be focused on ensuring that everyone has the right amount of legal help, says Bob Glaves at the Chicago Bar Foundation.

  • US Self-Defense Law Is Neither Overly Harsh Nor Disappearing

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    The inaccurate caricatures of U.S. self-defense law distract us from engaging in a more fully informed debate about the appropriate role of, and justification for, self-defense in a modern, pluralistic society, says Markus Funk at Perkins Coie.

  • High Court Death Penalty Ruling Presents A Troubling Future

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    While the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Cruz v. Arizona — which said the Arizona high court misinterpreted state criminal procedure and warranted federal review was — came as a pleasant surprise in its prioritization of due process, the 5-4 ruling also portends poorly for the future with a low bar in death penalty cases, says Christopher Durocher at the American Constitution Society.

  • What Landmark Ruling Means For Civil Rights Suits In Nevada

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    The Nevada Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Mack v. Williams ends the use of qualified immunity in the state, and though the defense will likely be revived by the Legislature, the decision provides a framework for litigants to hold state actors accountable for violations of state constitutional protections, says Austin Barnum at Clark Hill.

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