Access to Justice

  • September 22, 2023

    Access To Justice Cases To Watch This Term

    In the term beginning next week, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to return to some of the most hot-button issues concerning civil rights: guns, free speech, race discrimination, and potentially more.

  • September 22, 2023

    Legal Aid Funder Awards $5M For Pro Bono Services

    The Legal Services Corporation announced this week it will award more than $5 million in grants to 17 legal organizations around the U.S. in an effort to expand and improve pro bono legal services across the country.

  • September 22, 2023

    Suits Shed Light On Alleged Baton Rouge 'Torture Warehouse'

    An unmarked warehouse down the road from a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police station has become the subject of lawsuits alleging that some police detainees have been subjected to clandestine and sometimes violent interrogations. The allegations are serious enough that the FBI is investigating, authorities say.

  • September 22, 2023

    How Robins Kaplan Helped Protect Minn. Wilderness Area

    Attorneys with Robins Kaplan LLP recently helped an environmental group defeat a suit brought by a mining company seeking to extract copper and nickel upstream from a massive, federally protected Minnesota wilderness area including some of the most pristine waterways in North America.

  • September 22, 2023

    Georgia DAs' Fear Of 'Witch Hunt' Unfounded, Judge Told

    Counsel for members of Georgia's new commission tasked with investigating complaints against prosecutors urged an Atlanta judge Friday to reject an attempt by four district attorneys to halt the commission's work before it starts accepting complaints Oct. 1.

  • September 20, 2023

    NY State Bar Unveils Post-Affirmative Action DEI Strategies

    Members of a New York State Bar Association task force on Wednesday urged leaders in higher education, law and the corporate world to implement meaningful and legally permissible race-neutral criteria to advance diversity and inclusion goals in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision ending affirmative action in university admissions.

  • September 15, 2023

    DC Lawyers Group For Civil Rights Names Three Directors

    The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs has named a new development director, a new legal director and its first communications director, the committee announced Thursday.

  • September 13, 2023

    Mass. Justices Hint At Individual Review Of Police Misdeeds

    Justices on Massachusetts' highest court signaled Wednesday that they do not view allegations of widespread police misconduct in a now-disbanded Springfield police narcotics unit in the same light as the state drug lab scandal that led to the dismissals of some 30,000 convictions.

  • September 13, 2023

    Prisons Bureau Chief Questioned On Reports Of Inmate Abuse

    The director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons faced questions from lawmakers on Wednesday about how the agency is working to address reports of sexual misconduct by inmates and employees following multiple investigations.

  • September 13, 2023

    Dem Sen. Peter Welch Blasts Possible Public Defender Cuts

    Years before coming to Congress, Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., was a public defender, and now he's raising the alarm about proposed cuts by the House and Senate to the federal public defender system, which he calls a "bedrock requirement" of the American judicial system.

  • September 12, 2023

    Rule Changes Could Slow Eviction Process In Michigan

    The Michigan court process for evictions is set to change in November, when several new and temporary tenant protections that could increase the amount of time it takes to evict a renter who is behind on bills will take permanent effect.

  • September 12, 2023

    Senate Bill Reintroduced To Address Judicial 'Emergencies'

    A bipartisan group of senators announced Tuesday they have reintroduced legislation to create 66 new district judgeships following the next two presidential elections in order to alleviate workloads on the courts.

  • September 12, 2023

    Public Defenders Are 'Dangerously' Overworked, Report Finds

    Public defenders face extremely heavy workloads that prevent them from providing effective legal representation to people accused of crimes, according to a new study published Tuesday.

  • September 11, 2023

    DOJ Awards $59 Million For Domestic Violence Programs

    The U.S. Department of Justice awarded nearly $58.9 million in grants to support survivors of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, the agency announced.

  • September 08, 2023

    What A $1M Civil Rights Win Means For Police Accountability

    After helping win a $1.1 million verdict last month for a Staten Island man who said he was falsely arrested by three New York police officers, counsel on the case said the victory showed a growing receptiveness by jurors to give serious consideration to misconduct allegations.

  • September 08, 2023

    Clerical Snags Stymie Name Changes For Trans New Yorkers

    Despite a 2021 state law streamlining the legal process for changing names and genders in New York courts, advocates say clerical staff has created new obstacles for transgender people seeking to affirm their identities, even in a relatively progressive jurisdiction such as Manhattan.

  • September 08, 2023

    'Remarkable' 5th Circ. Ruling May Help End Felon Voting Bans

    After the Fifth Circuit recently labeled Mississippi's permanent disenfranchisement of felons an example of unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment, advocates say the ruling could further efforts to end the practice elsewhere around the country, but critics counter that it conflicts with precedent and the U.S. Constitution.

  • September 08, 2023

    Morgan Lewis Helps Former Afghan Official, Family Flee To US

    Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP attorneys worked for nearly two years to help a former Afghan government official and his family navigate the visa process and relocate to the United States.

  • September 08, 2023

    Two Wrongfully Convicted Men Win $20.5M From Louisville

    Two men who each spent about 22 years in prison for a murder but were later exonerated through DNA evidence will share a $20.5 million settlement from Louisville's government, attorneys for the men announced Friday.

  • September 08, 2023

    Biden Admin Settles Suit Over Afghan Asylum App Delays

    President Joe Biden's administration has agreed to adjudicate at least half of the pending asylum bids filed by Afghan applicants by October as part of a settlement resolving a proposed class action that accused the government of failing to meet its own timetable for those fleeing renewed Taliban rule.

  • September 07, 2023

    Atty Wellness Among NJ High Court's Equal Justice Initiatives

    The New Jersey Supreme Court has outlined new initiatives to ensure access to justice for people of color and other historically marginalized groups, including expanding efforts to support wellness for law professionals and leveraging technology to improve notice of and access to court language services.

  • September 07, 2023

    Del. Court Declines To Force Grand Jury Testimony Recording

    A Delaware appellate judge has ruled that despite what he agreed was a "marked unfairness for criminal defendants," he would not disturb a set of conflicting procedural rules requiring that defendants be given access to recordings of grand jury testimony while also largely preventing such recordings from being created in the first place.

  • September 05, 2023

    Major Settlement Aims To Change NYPD's Protest Response

    The New York Police Department on Tuesday has agreed to change its use of force policies in responding to protests as part of a settlement that will require it to use deescalation techniques and adopt a more nuanced approach to crowd control, according to papers filed in federal court.

  • September 01, 2023

    Okla. Courts To Expand Non-English Access Under DOJ Deal

    The Justice Department has struck a deal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court's administrative staff to provide more resources to individuals with limited English proficiency, resolving a 2021 complaint alleging the state's courts fail to provide adequate language interpretation in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • August 31, 2023

    Houston Man Sues Over Rule Classifying Defendants' Info

    A Houston man who distributes criminal defendants' contact information to private defense attorneys on Thursday sued the Harris County District Clerk and the administrative arm of the county's criminal courts over a new rule that makes certain defendant information private, arguing it threatens his direct mail business and violates his constitutional rights.

Expert Analysis

  • DOJ's Cautious Return To Supplemental Enviro Projects

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    While the U.S. Department of Justice has ended the Trump-era ban on negotiating supplemental environment projects as part of civil and criminal environmental settlements, the process and delay around this change suggest that SEPs may be more limited under the Biden administration than in the past, say attorneys at Sidley.

  • Justices' Ruling Makes Some Progress On Cop Accountability

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    The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Thompson v. Clark removes a roadblock that stymied malicious prosecution lawsuits, and could have positive impacts beyond the Fourth Amendment — but suits seeking accountability for police misconduct still face numerous challenges, says Brian Frazelle at the Constitutional Accountability Center.

  • We Can't Rely On Lawyers For Every Justice Need

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    The Southern District of New York, which recently heard arguments in Upsolve and John Udo-Okon v. New York, has the opportunity to increase access to justice by allowing nonlawyers to provide legal help, shifting the focus from credentials to substantive outcomes, says Rebecca Sandefur at Arizona State University.

  • Reinvigorated DOJ Is Strong Incentive For Police Reforms

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    The U.S. Department of Justice is fully back in the business of investigating law enforcement agencies as part of the Biden administration's prioritization of racial equity, criminal justice reform and prosecution of hate crimes, so police departments have strong incentive to be proactive in their reforms, say attorneys at McGuireWoods.

  • Habeas Ruling Shows Justices' Growing Hostility Toward Writ

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    The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Brown v. Davenport, upholding the murder conviction of a man who was shackled at trial in view of the jury, makes an unjust federal review law more potent, and points to the conservative supermajority’s increasing antagonism toward writs of habeas corpus, says Christopher Wright Durocher at the American Constitution Society.

  • Time To Fix Legal Industry's Environmental Pro Bono Problem

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    As we observe Earth Month, it's sobering to note that pro bono environmental law work lags behind other practice areas — but the good news is that there are numerous organizations that can help lawyers get connected with environment-related pro bono projects, says Matthew Karmel at Riker Danzig.

  • How Prosecutors Can End Cycle Of Intimate Partner Violence

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    With 10 million people in the U.S. reporting that they experience intimate partner violence each year, it’s clear that traditional forms of prosecution are falling short, especially in small and rural communities, but prosecutors can explore new ways to support survivors and prevent violence, say Alissa Marque Heydari at John Jay College and David Sullivan, a district attorney.

  • DOJ's Boeing Immunity Deal Violated Crime Victims' Rights

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    The Northern District of Texas should support the arguments of 737 Max plane crash victims’ families, and hold that the U.S. Department of Justice violated the families' ability to provide input under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when it secretly entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with Boeing, says Meg Garvin at the National Crime Victims Law Institute.

  • Jackson Confirmation Hearings Should Examine Due Process

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    In the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings, senators should assess Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s approach to holding government actors accountable in the areas of qualified immunity and forfeiture, as revisiting shaky precedents on these topics could help guarantee due process for all, says Marc Levin at the Council on Criminal Justice.

  • ABA's New Anti-Bias Curriculum Rule Is Insufficient

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    The American Bar Association's recently approved requirement that law schools educate students on bias, cross-cultural competency and racism, while a step in the right direction, fails to publicly acknowledge and commit to eradicating the systemic racial inequality in our legal system, says criminal defense attorney Donna Mulvihill Fehrmann.

  • Justice Reforms Call For Quick Action To Fill US Atty Spots

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    U.S. attorneys play an important role in transforming the criminal legal system for several reasons, and they can restore integrity and independence to the U.S. Department of Justice, so President Joe Biden and Congress must move quickly to fill the remaining two-thirds of the top prosecutor seats, says Derick Dailey at Davis + Gilbert.

  • Judge's Veto Of Arbery Hate Crime Plea Deal Is Not Unusual

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    Contrary to media commentary, a Georgia federal judge’s rejection of the plea agreement between prosecutors and a defendant charged with hate crimes in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery is not actually surprising — it simply indicates the judge’s desire to retain discretion and allow all parties to be heard before making a just sentencing decision, says Dominick Gerace at Taft Stettinius.

  • Indefinite Migrant Detention Without Review Is Kafkaesque

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    In two recently argued U.S. Supreme Court cases, the government's position that detained migrants can't demand an immigration judge review their confinement, but can instead file a habeas petition in federal court, reads like a work of Kafka, offering only the illusion of access to a hearing before a neutral fact-finder, says César García Hernández at Ohio State University.

  • 2 Worthy Goals For The DOJ's New Domestic Terrorism Unit

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    The U.S. Department of Justice’s newly announced Domestic Terrorism Unit should include both counterterrorism and civil rights prosecutors, and would benefit from a criminal statute that is modeled after international terrorism laws and that strikes a balance between protecting the public and constitutional rights, say Emil Bove and Brittany Manna at Chiesa Shahinian.

  • Justice Reforms Are Not To Blame For Waukesha Tragedy

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    Last month's parade attack in Wisconsin has brought into focus the fact that the accused was out of jail on a low bond — but this tragedy must not be exploited to reverse years of long-overdue criminal justice reform, when emerging data shows that new prosecutorial models are associated with better outcomes than an overly punitive approach, says Alissa Marque Heydari at John Jay College.

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