Access to Justice

  • 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.

  • August 30, 2023

    Seattle Gets Eatery's Suit Over BLM Protest Zone Trimmed

    A Korean restaurant in Seattle can't move forward with claims that the city infringed on its constitutional rights by abandoning entire city blocks during Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 without specifying how the city's response created a "particularized danger" for the business, a Washington federal judge ruled this week

  • August 25, 2023

    Sentencing Commission Backs Retroactive Cuts For 1st Timers

    A divided U.S. Sentencing Commission has voted to retroactively apply changes to sentencing guidelines that will allow potentially thousands of defendants who were sentenced as first-time offenders to petition courts for a reduction in their prison terms. 

  • August 25, 2023

    4 Questions For The ABA's Next Criminal Justice Chair

    Tina Luongo, The Legal Aid Society of New York City's top criminal defender, is approaching their new position as chair of the American Bar Association's criminal justice section with an eye on issues like keeping prosecutors and public defenders in their jobs at a time of significant attrition.

  • August 24, 2023

    4th Circ. Says Treaty Doesn't Support Lithuanian's Extradition

    A split Fourth Circuit panel on Thursday revived a Lithuanian man's bid to avoid extradition, ruling that Lithuania did not comply with the terms of a treaty with the U.S. requiring it to provide a document showing that the man had been criminally judged.

  • August 23, 2023

    Bill Aims To Better Help Incarcerated People With Disabilities

    In a new piece of legislation, two Democratic lawmakers are seeking to provide more assistance and resources for people with disabilities who are in local, state and federal jails and prisons.

  • August 22, 2023

    Ex-Judges Say Abuser Disarmament Is Constitutional

    A group of former chief state judges is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to undo a Fifth Circuit decision holding that a law allowing the disarmament of domestic abusers violates the Second Amendment, saying the law and others like it serve to protect vulnerable people as well as the integrity of the courts.

  • August 17, 2023

    Washington Sued Over New Law On Shelter For Trans Youth

    Two anti-trans groups are suing the state of Washington in Seattle federal court over a new law that policymakers say is intended to ensure shelter for teens seeking gender-affirming care and reproductive health services, alleging that the measure tramples parents' "constitutional rights to direct the upbringing of their children."

  • August 15, 2023

    2nd Amendment Allows Disarming Abusers, Feds Tell Justices

    The Fifth Circuit's decision to strike down a law forbidding domestic abusers from owning guns was "profoundly mistaken" and "endangers victims of domestic violence, their families, police officers, and the public," the federal government has told the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • August 11, 2023

    Family of NY Man Who Died After Police Beating Wins $35M

    A federal jury on Thursday awarded a $35 million verdict to the family of Long Island resident Kenny Lazo, who died in Suffolk County police custody in 2008.

  • August 10, 2023

    Feds, Rikers Detainees Have Green Light To Seek Receiver

    A New York federal judge on Thursday cleared the way for detainees at New York City's Rikers Island and Manhattan federal prosecutors to push for a receiver to take control of the notorious jail complex away from city officials, in the wake of increasingly dire reports of violence and mismanagement.

  • August 09, 2023

    11th Circ. Revives Claim Over Inmate's Mail To Attorneys

    The Eleventh Circuit on Tuesday kept alive a Florida inmate's constitutional claim against two county jail employees, saying the prisoner's argument that his legal mail shouldn't be scanned into a computer because others might read it shouldn't have been dismissed by the district court.

  • August 07, 2023

    Ark. Suit Over Providing Atty For Bail Hearings Is Kept Alive

    An Arkansas federal judge has kept alive a suit challenging a state court's failure to appoint counsel to indigent clients prior to their bail hearings, saying the defendants can't escape the claims based on sovereign immunity and declaring that appointed counsel provides "critical assistance" during a bail hearing.

  • August 04, 2023

    Court-Appointed Atty Accused Of 'Abysmal Representation'

    A 70-year-old Houston man who says he sat in jail without substantial contact from his court-appointed attorney for more than three years before his case was ultimately dismissed — causing him to miss the death and funeral of his wife of 40 years — has sued his former lawyer for legal malpractice.

  • August 01, 2023

    2nd Circ. Revives Honduran Woman's Rape Case Against ICE

    The Second Circuit said Tuesday that a lower court should not have rejected the claims of a Honduran immigrant as time-barred and revived her suit alleging a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer regularly raped her and threatened her with deportation for seven years.

  • July 31, 2023

    ICE Sued For Records Of Chemicals Sprayed At Wash. Facility

    An immigrant rights group filed a lawsuit Friday asking a Washington federal judge to compel U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hand over internal reports of guards at a Tacoma detention facility spewing chemical agents at people being held there earlier this year.

Expert Analysis

  • 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.

  • Addressing Prison Risk After CARES Act Home Confinement

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    Home confinement eligibility, which was expanded last year due to high rates of COVID-19 in penal institutions, may soon be tightened, so house-detained individuals at risk of returning to prison should understand their various avenues for relief, as well as the procedural obstacles they may face in mounting legal challenges, say Charles Burnham and Jonathan Knowles at Burnham & Gorokhov.

  • We Must Help Fix Justice Gap In Georgia's Legal Deserts

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    In much of rural Georgia, there are too few lawyers to meet residents’ urgent legal needs, forcing self-represented litigants to navigate an impenetrable system, but courts, law firms and nonlawyers can help address these legal deserts in various ways, says Lauren Sudeall at Georgia State University College of Law.

  • Reimagining Courthouse Design For Better Access To Justice

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    While courthouse design has historically been driven by tradition, it is time to shift from the classical courthouse to spaces that are accessible to those with mobility challenges, serve the needs of vulnerable litigants, and accommodate pandemic-era shifts toward remote and hybrid proceedings, says architect Clair Colburn at Finegold Alexander.

  • Why Law Schools Should Require Justice Reform Curriculum

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    Criminal defense attorney Donna Mulvihill Fehrmann argues that law schools have an obligation to address widespread racial and economic disparities in the U.S. legal system by mandating first-year coursework on criminal justice reform that educates on prosecutorial misconduct, wrongful convictions, defense 101 and more.

  • Attorneys, Fight For Enviro Justice With Both Law And Protest

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    In this moment of climate crisis, lawyers can and should use law and protest in tandem — from urging law firms to stop serving the fossil fuel industry to helping draft laws that accelerate the transition to a sustainable way of life, says Vivek Maru at Namati.

  • One-Subject Rule Strategy Can Defeat Dangerous State Laws

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    Attorneys at Ulmer & Berne explain how single-subject rule violation claims can thwart certain unconstitutional or controversial state statutes and protect civil rights in the face of state governments under one-party rule.

  • States Must Rethink Wrongful Conviction Compensation Laws

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    States, counties and municipalities have now paid over $3 billion in judgments or settlements to exonerees, while policymakers lack comprehensive data on official misconduct and financial costs — but rethinking state compensation statutes can curb the policies and practices that cause wrongful convictions in the first place, says Jeffrey Gutman at George Washington University.

  • Police And Voting Reform Need Federal Remedy, Not Takeover

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    The debate over what level of government should hold sway is central to today's impasse over voting rights and police reform legislation, but anchoring the conversation in the U.S. Constitution can create the common ground of tailored federal remediation that also preserves traditional state and local functions, says Marc Levin at the Council on Criminal Justice.

  • 8th Circ. Ruling Further Narrows Qualified Immunity

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    The recent Eighth Circuit ruling in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship/USA v. University of Iowa seems to align with a growing body of case law suggesting that government officials may have a harder time obtaining qualified immunity for their actions if they involve calculated choices to enforce unconstitutional policies, says Thomas Eastmond at Holland & Knight.

  • 6 Ways To Improve Veterans' Access To Civil Legal Aid

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    Veterans often lack adequate help when confronting civil legal issues such as evictions, foreclosures and child custody disputes, so legal aid organizations should collaborate with veteran-serving programs and state and local governments to offer former military members better access to legal resources, say Ronald Flagg at Legal Services Corp. and Isabelle Ord at DLA Piper.

  • Better Civil Legal Resources Are Key To Justice For All

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    Fulfilling the promise of equal justice requires disruptive change to the civil legal system, where millions of Americans lack adequate resources and information — and attorneys have many opportunities to help their states build the tools necessary to navigate civil disputes, say retired California Judge Laurie Zelon and Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.

  • User Feedback Is Key To Running Virtual Diversion Programs

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    Judicially led diversion programs have adapted to the COVID-19 era by providing services online, but recent research points to a disconnect between practitioner and participant perspectives, showing that soliciting user input is crucial to success, says Tara Kunkel at Rulo Strategies. 

  • Justices Must Reject Police Shield Against Civil Rights Claims

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    The Institute for Justice’s Marie Miller lays out four reasons why, in deciding Thompson v. Clark, the U.S. Supreme Court should reverse an arcane circuit court rule that abandons the foundational presumption of innocence principle and ultimately provides a shield for police and other government officers who violate constitutional rights.

  • NY Courts Should Protect Housing Rights Of All Tenants

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    New York courts should adopt a construction of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act that expands on the rights of tenants without a traditional landlord-tenant relationship, in order to not only promote justice, but also adhere to the law as written, say law student Giannina Crosby, and professors Sateesh Nori and Julia McNally, at NYU Law.

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