Access to Justice

  • 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.

  • November 17, 2023

    New Texas A2J Leader On Plans To Narrow The Justice Gap

    The new executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Commission says she's "hit the ground running" as the commission tackles big issues like limited-scope representation and the use of paraprofessionals to provide legal assistance to those unable to afford an attorney.

  • November 16, 2023

    NY Gov. Signs Bill To Seal Certain Criminal Records

    New Yorkers convicted of certain crimes will have their conviction records automatically sealed after a set number of years, with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday signing a bill aimed at curbing discrimination against formerly incarcerated people and boosting employment.

  • November 16, 2023

    Scholars Back NAACP In Fight Over SC Legal Advice Law

    A group of legal scholars has urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to prevent a South Carolina law, which bars nonlawyers from giving legal advice, from applying to a new eviction-help program by the NAACP, saying the program is necessary to confront the state's dire access to justice crisis, court documents show.

  • November 13, 2023

    Justices Split In Denial Of Solitary Confinement Challenge

    The U.S. Supreme Court split along ideological lines Monday when it declined to review a Seventh Circuit ruling that an Illinois prison's decision to deprive an inmate in solitary confinement of exercise for three years did not violate his constitutional rights — a ruling the court's liberal wing said was an "indisputable" error.

  • November 08, 2023

    Activists Optimistic Justices Will Uphold Abuser Gun Ban

    Gun and domestic violence advocates are optimistic the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold a federal statute prohibiting people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms, saying the justices during oral argument seemed to have a consensus about the regulation's importance and that the Fifth Circuit erred in striking it down.

  • November 07, 2023

    Justices Skeptical Of Keeping Domestic Abusers Armed

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared skeptical of a lower-court decision that a federal law prohibiting people who are subject to domestic violence restraining orders from owning firearms violates the Second Amendment.

  • November 06, 2023

    NAACP Program Asks 4th Circ. To Block SC Legal Advice Law

    The NAACP pressed its case in the Fourth Circuit for an injunction to prevent a South Carolina law barring nonlawyers from giving legal advice from applying to a new eviction-help program, arguing Monday the statute is trampling on the tenant advocates' free speech rights.

  • November 03, 2023

    DC Legal Aid Providers Revive Eviction Assistance Program

    Legal Aid D.C., several legal service providers and 19 law firms across Washington, D.C., are relaunching an eviction assistance program after efforts to remove residents from their homes more than doubled this year, and as a COVID-19-era eviction moratorium ends, the group announced Thursday.

  • November 01, 2023

    Legal Aid Atty To Lead Criminal-Side Policy, Litigation Work

    A New York Legal Aid Society attorney is taking charge of its criminal defense practice's special litigation unit amid the group's fight to challenge incarceration, policing and forensic practices, and push for policy reform.

  • October 31, 2023

    ABA Urges Justices To Review Inmate's Atty Abandonment

    The U.S. Supreme Court should give a Texas man found guilty of a 2005 double homicide and abandoned by his attorney a "fair shot" at challenging his conviction by resolving a disagreement among federal circuit courts, the American Bar Association told the justices.

  • October 30, 2023

    Justices Wary Of Picking Standard For Post-Seizure Hearings

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday appeared unsure about how far it should go in regulating civil forfeiture, a process used to seize private property during criminal investigations — one some of the justices acknowledged that state and local authorities sometimes abuse.

  • October 27, 2023

    The Unlikely Friendship Helping Drive NY Parole Reform Fight

    Before she departed New York’s parole board out of frustration with the system in 2018, Carol Shapiro voted to release Jose Saldana after almost 40 years in prison for attempted murder. Since then, the pair have become good friends as they've united in working to reform New York’s approach to parole.

  • October 27, 2023

    Stradley Ronon Attys Win Release Of Wrongly Convicted Man

    A three-year effort by Philadelphia-based Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young LLP attorneys led to the release this month of a 63-year-old man who was wrongly convicted of murder and spent 41 years behind bars.

  • October 27, 2023

    Helping Inmate Firefighters Go From Jailhouse To Firehouse

    Several states that rely on prison inmates to fight fires make it nearly impossible for the ex-offenders to keep firefighting once they're released, so the former prisoners, along with lawyers and lawmakers, are turning to educational programs, lawsuits and legislation to help inmate firefighters become professional ones.

  • October 27, 2023

    Local Lawyers Step Up For National Pro Bono Week

    Now in its 14th year, the American Bar Association-led Pro Bono Week seeks to mobilize attorneys across the legal industry to take up much-needed pro bono work. BigLaw firms and large corporate legal departments contribute tens of thousands of volunteer hours every year, but small firm attorneys and legal aid nonprofits find meaningful ways to make a difference too.

  • October 27, 2023

    Is The State Court System Setting Judges Up To Fail?

    Around 98.5% of America’s legal disputes are filed in state courts, yet the judges tasked with deciding them are often appointed or elected to the bench without any formal judicial training. Here, Law360 explores the challenges for state court judges and efforts to better prepare them for the role.

  • October 25, 2023

    Venable Donates $250K To Unaccompanied Minor Legal Fund

    The philanthropic arm of Venable LLP, the Venable Foundation, has awarded a $250,000 grant to the Kids in Need of Defense fund, an organization that provides legal services to migrant children who come to the country unaccompanied by or separated from their guardians, the firm announced Tuesday.

  • October 24, 2023

    NJ State Police Sued For Failing To Clear Expunged Records

    The New Jersey State Police has failed to timely remove expunged criminal records from the background checks of tens of thousands of individuals, preventing them from getting jobs, housing and other opportunities, the state's Office of the Public Defender claims in a proposed class action.

  • October 13, 2023

    How Church's Ch. 11 Bid Could Shut Out Abuse Victims

    Anticipating a flood of lawsuits from a new state law ending the statute of limitations on child sex abuse claims, the Archdiocese of Baltimore took refuge in bankruptcy court last month to shield itself from liability as it tries to ensure its solvency. It’s a strategy that dioceses around the country are using more frequently in what some attorneys say is a bid to escape the tort system.

  • October 13, 2023

    Snapshot: Police Union Casts NYPD Protest Deal Into Doubt

    Approval of a settlement that could significantly change the way the New York Police Department handles protests has been thrown into doubt after the city's largest police union filed objections in Manhattan federal court last week.

  • October 13, 2023

    NY's Top Court To Decide Who Can Discipline Police

    The New York State Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments this month in a case that could have statewide implications on who is entrusted to review complaints against police and impose discipline.

  • October 13, 2023

    Atty's Secret Courtroom Meeting May Upend NY Murder Case

    A secret conversation held in an empty courtroom in New York’s Hudson Valley has left a judge, his clerk and a local attorney facing ethics questions that could result in a manslaughter conviction being tossed.

  • October 13, 2023

    Attys Spotlighted In HBO Documentary On Charlottesville Suit

    A team of boutique and BigLaw attorneys and their clients are the stars of a documentary legal thriller that debuted on HBO this week capturing the battle they fought against the white nationalist forces that helped fuel 2017's deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

  • October 13, 2023

    Resolute Lawyers Help South Sudanese Dissident Win Asylum

    Two Paul Hastings attorneys recently helped a South Sudanese peace activist and his family navigate a three-year bureaucratic odyssey to secure asylum in the U.S. following their escape from government hit squads in their home country.

Expert Analysis

  • We Can Ensure Public Safety And Still Reduce Incarceration

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    Recent progress toward reducing jail and prison populations remains fragile as tough-on-crime policies reemerge, but American history shows that we don’t have to choose between less violence and lower incarceration rates — we can have both, says Jeffrey Bellin at William & Mary Law School.

  • War On Drugs Is Cautionary Tale For Abortion Prosecution

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    As state abortion bans proliferate, prosecutors have an obligation to learn from the devastating lessons of the war on drugs — which disproportionately affected communities of color — and vow not to prosecute individuals’ reproductive health care-related decisions, says Dekalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston.

  • The Most-Read Access To Justice Law360 Guest Articles Of 2022

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    Law360 guest experts weighed in on a broad slate of emerging access to justice issues last year, ranging from evidence of ineffective counsel to opportunities for nonlawyers to provide legal help and the presumption of innocence.

  • Understanding Illinois' First-Of-Its-Kind Law Nixing Cash Bail

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    A new law taking effect Jan. 1 that makes Illinois the first state to eliminate cash bail has been amended to correct some of the many concerns of those who opposed the original, flawed piece of legislation that was rushed through, and will make sweeping changes to how criminal justice operates in Illinois, say Joe Tabor and Perry Zhao at the Illinois Policy Institute.

  • Defense Attorneys Can Help Limit Electronic Monitor Overuse

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    Though electronic monitoring is increasingly promoted as an alternative to incarceration for people awaiting trial, on probation or parole, or undergoing immigration proceedings, its effectiveness is unsupported by evidence and it results in clear harms, so defense attorneys should consider several strategies to challenge its overuse, say experts at the ACLU.

  • DOJ Can't Justify Its Failure To Get Data On Deaths In Custody

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    The U.S. Department of Justice incorrectly claims that a law requiring it to collect meaningful data on how many people die in government custody has somehow limited its ability to do just that — and every failure to study these deaths is a missed opportunity to prevent others, says David Janovsky at the Project On Government Oversight.

  • How Civilian Attorneys Can Help Veterans

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    With legal aid topping the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' annual list of unmet needs of veterans facing housing insecurity, nonmilitary volunteer attorneys can provide some of the most effective legal services to military and veteran clients, say Anna Richardson at Veterans Legal Services and Nicholas Hasenfus at Holland & Knight.

  • Prison Abuse Victims May Get Justice In NY Look-Back Term

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    As New York opens a one-year window for survivors of adulthood sexual abuse to bring otherwise time-barred claims, incarcerated individuals who were abused by prison staff have an opportunity to seek redress, and can rely on a recent federal court decision to assess potential remedies, says Jaehyun Oh at the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm.

  • As 4th Circ. Reminds, Carrying Cash Is Not A Crime

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    The Fourth Circuit’s recent decision in U.S. v. McClellan makes clear that unwillingness or inability to use a bank account does not necessarily make someone a criminal, and that the government needs evidence of wrongdoing before seizing and keeping assets, say Robert Johnson and Caroline Grace Brothers at Institute for Justice.

  • Algorithms Have Potential To Reduce Sentencing Disparities

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    Criminal legal system algorithms have mostly been used to assess the risk posed by defendants in settings like pretrial release, bail determinations, sentencing and parole supervision, but predictable modeling can also be used to reduce sentencing disparities and overly punitive outcomes, say ACLU researchers and collaborators.

  • 2 Legislative Reforms Would Address Many Immigration Woes

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    Congress should pass currently pending legislation to create an Article I immigration court and update the registry process — reforms that would shield immigration courts from political pressure, enable many longtime residents to cure their immigration status, and alleviate case backlogs, says retired immigration judge Dana Leigh Marks.

  • Mich. Ruling Widens Sentencing Protections For Young Adults

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    The Michigan Supreme Court’s recent decision in People v. Parks, holding that a mandatory life-without-parole sentence for an 18-year-old violated the state’s constitution, builds on a nascent trend, based in neuroscience, that expands protections for young people over 17 who are charged with serious offenses, says Kimberly Thomas at the University of Michigan Law School.

  • Bodega Worker Case Exposes Key Flaw In NY Legal System

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    The controversial murder case involving bodega worker Jose Alba reveals New York prosecutors’ common practice of charging first and investigating later — a systemic failure that has devastating consequences for individuals and undermines the presumption of innocence, says Michael Bloch at Bloch & White.

  • Justices' Resentencing Ruling Boosts Judicial Discretion

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    The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Concepcion v. U.S., holding that federal judges can consider new laws and a defendant’s rehabilitation in resentencing, will enable correction of overlong crack cocaine-related sentences — but this wider judicial discretion may also entrench existing disparities, says Mark Osler at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

  • Justices Leave Many With No Court To Hear Innocence Claims

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    While bad lawyering is an all too common cause of wrongful convictions, the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Shinn v. Ramirez closes the federal courthouse doors to evidence of ineffective counsel, leaving many without a meaningful opportunity to prove their innocence, says Christina Swarns at the Innocence Project.

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