Access to Justice

  • June 29, 2023

    6th Circ. Says Private Juvenile Lockup Must Face Death Suit

    A split panel of the Sixth Circuit has reversed a Michigan federal judge's dismissal of a civil rights case brought against a private juvenile detention center operator, with the majority ruling that the complaint over a teenage detainee's suicide sufficiently alleged that the company is a state actor.

  • June 28, 2023

    Are Attys Being Held Accountable For Client Sexual Contact?

    When the Missouri Supreme Court recently declined to disbar an attorney accused of sexually assaulting his clients, it was not an anomaly. A Law360 investigation of attorney discipline records found that of more than 100 attorneys disciplined for having sexual contact with clients, the vast majority were allowed to keep their law licenses.

  • June 28, 2023

    ACLU Wants NJ To Push Forward On Incarceration Reforms

    The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey urged state officials on Wednesday to continue efforts to decrease incarceration by eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, expanding clemency and compassionate release, and decriminalizing drug offenses.

  • June 28, 2023

    NJ Judge Forced To Quit For Airing Bias Concerns, Suit Says

    A New Jersey municipal judge suffered retaliation in the form of lost disability accommodation and was forced to resign after he made widely publicized allegations that local courts discriminated against Hispanic defendants, the jurist alleges in a new lawsuit.

  • June 23, 2023

    Atty Bias Eyed As New Path For Mass. Conviction Challenges

    A recent Massachusetts high court decision to toss a Black Muslim man's conviction based on his defense attorney's racist and xenophobic online posts is being hailed as a win for racial justice, and advocates say it could lead to other cases being challenged on grounds of bias by appointed counsel.

  • June 23, 2023

    More Cases Involving Convicted Ex-Cops Axed In Manhattan

    While the Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced this month that it would throw out over 300 mostly misdemeanor convictions tied to discredited New York City cops, information gathered by local advocates suggests prosecutors have a long road ahead of them in accounting for damage done by police officers they no longer trust.

  • June 23, 2023

    New Maine Law Protects Atty-Client Privilege In Jail Calls

    The Maine Legislature approved a bill this week that seeks to protect attorney-client privilege for incarcerated people using jail phones. The legislation came in response to outrage over recent revelations that authorities had eavesdropped on confidential calls at several jails in the state.

  • June 23, 2023

    How Simpson Thacher Beat Kansas Vote-By-Mail Restrictions

    When Kansas lawmakers enacted legislation that made it a crime for out-of-state groups to send mail-in ballot applications to voters, attorneys with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP sprang into action and recently notched a major First Amendment victory in challenging the law.

  • June 23, 2023

    Minnesota Joins Prosecutor-Led Resentencing Law Movement

    Joining a growing number of states beginning with California in 2018, a newly adopted law in Minnesota is set to give prosecutors a chance to ask courts to resentence convicted criminals who have shown rehabilitation during their time in prison.

  • June 23, 2023

    DC Circ. Judge Tatel To Join Hogan Lovells' Litigation Practice

    After serving for 29 years, Senior D.C. Circuit Judge David S. Tatel will step down from the bench in August to join Hogan Lovells' litigation practice in Washington, where he'll focus on pro bono work.

  • June 23, 2023

    Justices Side With Gov't Over Use Of Redacted Confessions

    The Supreme Court ruled in a split decision Friday that a criminal defendant's constitutional rights were not violated when the trial judge allowed prosecutors to admit into evidence the confession of a non-testifying codefendant, since the defendant's name was redacted and jurors were given limiting instructions.

  • June 22, 2023

    5th Circ. Axes Challenge To Louisiana Bail System

    The Fifth Circuit has sent a Louisiana lawsuit that challenged bail practices in the state back to district court for dismissal, ruling that because relevant challenges were still possible on the state level, the lower federal court had moved too fast when it denied relief.

  • June 22, 2023

    Justices Say No Habeas For Retroactively Innocent Inmates

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal prisoners are barred from petitioning federal courts to get their sentences overturned after new case law makes them retroactively innocent, dealing the latest blow to a legal process known as habeas corpus.

  • June 20, 2023

    Young Thug Trial Illustrates System's Strain On Jurors

    Prospective juror No. 1,616 sits in the witness box of the downtown Atlanta courtroom and tells the judge he has three children, ages 2, 4 and 6, making it especially difficult for him to serve in what is expected to be Georgia's longest trial.

  • June 16, 2023

    Justices Say Gun Crime Sentences Can Run Parallel To Others

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday unanimously ruled that criminal defendants convicted of certain federal gun crimes could be allowed to serve concurrent sentences if they were also convicted of other crimes, rebuking the government's view that sentences must run consecutively.

  • June 15, 2023

    Wash. High Court Asks If Police Evictions Trigger AG Scrutiny

    Washington Supreme Court justices asked Thursday how far-reaching local civil rights violations needed to be before the state attorney general could get involved, as they considered the state's claims that a small city police force had a practice of illegally evicting residents.

  • June 15, 2023

    Arizona Releases Man Who Spent 29 Years On Death Row

    An Arizona man who spent 29 years on death row for the murder of a little girl he said he didn't commit was freed on Thursday after the state admitted that he was never given a fair trial.

  • June 13, 2023

    Conn. AG Talks Unregulated Cannabis 'Danger,' Abortion

    Explaining that unlicensed and unregulated THC products pose a "danger" because they could subject consumers, especially youths, to medically unsafe doses, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said during a wide-ranging interview with Law360 that his office would continue to target cannabis sellers who try to skirt his state's recreational marijuana laws.  

  • June 08, 2023

    Businesses Sue Seattle Over 2020 Protest Response

    A Seattle-based ice cream chain and a property owner sued the city in federal court this week, accusing officials of encouraging and condoning a protest zone in 2020 that shut down parts of the business's neighborhood, which they say resulted in lost revenue and an illegal taking by the local government.

  • June 07, 2023

    Homeowners Say NY Courts Defy Law On Foreclosure Aid

    Two Brooklyn homeowners accused New York's court administrators and justices of the state's Supreme Court in Brooklyn of failing to implement a state law requiring courts to assess if homeowners who are facing foreclosure and cannot afford an attorney should be given free legal representation, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

  • June 06, 2023

    Legal Ethicists Back Inmate's Innocence Case At High Court

    A group of renowned legal ethics scholars has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of an Oklahoma death row inmate whose murder conviction has been deemed by the state's attorney general to be plagued by errors and possible prosecutorial misconduct, court filings show.

  • June 05, 2023

    Davis Wright Among ABA's 2023 Pro Bono Honorees

    Davis Wright Tremaine LLP and four individuals are set to receive honors from the American Bar Association later this year for their pro bono efforts in areas such as gender-based violence and Social Security disability fraud, the ABA announced Monday.

  • June 02, 2023

    Venable Wins Resentencing For Last Md. Death Row Inmate

    The last Maryland resident on federal death row is now awaiting resentencing for the fatal 2002 kidnapping of a Washington, D.C., police officer's son after a Venable LLP team recently helped persuade a judge to vacate his death sentence and three firearms convictions.

  • June 02, 2023

    More States Turn To Paraprofessionals To Fill Justice Gap

    The number of states implementing programs to license paraprofessionals to practice law has swiftly multiplied over the last three years, growing from two states to six and counting as courts seek ways to meet the legal needs of low- and moderate-income residents.

  • June 02, 2023

    COVID Bottleneck Continues To Delay Federal Courts

    Though new filings fell dramatically over the course of the pandemic, the length of time it took cases to resolve rose, a sign that though the public health emergency has ended, COVID’s effects are still being felt in federal courts, raising access to justice concerns for both litigants and criminal defendants.

Expert Analysis

  • Judges On Race: Reducing Implicit Bias In Courtrooms

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    With unconscious biases deeply embedded in the court system, judges must take steps to guard against the power and influence of stereotypes during jury selection, evidence admissibility hearings, bail proceedings and other areas of judicial decision making, says U.S. Circuit Judge Bernice Donald.

  • Lack Of Access To Remote Court Proceedings Is Inexcusable

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    Blanket rules that bar recording or dissemination of remote public court proceedings impede presumptive common law and First Amendment right of access, greatly expand courts' powers over nonparties, and likely run afoul of U.S. Supreme Court precedent, says Matthew Schafer at ViacomCBS.

  • Countering Racial Bias In Courts Requires Bold Change

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    A recent review of the New York state court system recommends addressing pervasive racism through anti-bias trainings and better discrimination complaint protocols, but such efforts only scratch the surface of systemic racism in the law, says Jason Wu at the Legal Aid Society.

  • In Defense Of Data-Based Pretrial Risk Assessment

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    Equitable, research-based pretrial prison release decisions are not lucrative for the bail bond industry, which has led to misleading attacks against data-driven assessment tools, say Madeline Carter and Alison Shames at the Center for Effective Public Policy.

  • Change The Bankruptcy System To Help End Cycle Of Poverty

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    Courts must simplify their procedures to make bankruptcy more accessible to those who can't afford lawyers, especially as the pandemic drives bankruptcies to unprecedented levels, says Robert Gordon, a principal at Lerch Early and a former bankruptcy judge.

  • Book Review: Did The High Court Cause Mass Incarceration?

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    William Pizzi's argument in "The Supreme Court's Role in Mass Incarceration" that the U.S. Supreme Court is responsible for the high rate of incarceration is compelling, but his criticism overlooks the positive dimensions of the criminal procedure decisions under Chief Justice Earl Warren, says U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

  • Pandemic Should Propel New Prison Reforms

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    Prison releases resulting from coronavirus and earlier legislation proved that not all nonviolent offenders need to be jailed; this should spur penal system reform that includes expanded probationary alternatives, tax incentives for companies that employ ex-offenders and government transparency to ensure unbiased sentencing, says Abbe Lowell at Winston & Strawn.

  • Finding A Path Forward To Regulate The Legal Industry

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    Gerald Knapton at Ropers Majeski analyzes U.S. and U.K. experiments to explore alternative business structures and independent oversight for law firms, which could lead to innovative approaches to increasing access to legal services.

  • Remote Court Procedures Can Help Domestic Abuse Victims

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    Courts have recently adopted remote procedures to make domestic violence victims feel safer during the COVID-19 crisis, but they should consider preserving these trauma-sensitive adaptations post-pandemic as well, say Ashley Carter and Richard Kelley at the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project.

  • Law Commission's New Idea For Confiscation Orders Is Unfair

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    The recent proposal by the Law Commission of England and Wales to recall prisoners who fail to settle their confiscation orders when they have already served a sentence for nonpayment would, in effect, punish them twice for the same act, says Brian Swan at Stokoe Partnership.

  • Barrett Should Be Questioned On Children's Access To Courts

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    At a time when children's lives are so threatened by avoidable climate change chaos, understanding U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's views on what standing future generations have to seek declaratory relief in Article III courts should be an essential part of her confirmation hearings, says Julia Olson at Our Children's Trust.

  • A Smarter Approach To Measuring Prosecutorial Success

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    To improve their ability to dispense justice, prosecutors should measure the efficacy of their work based on metrics such as caseload distribution, timely case handling and racial disparity trends — instead of the traditionally used conviction rates and number of trials, say Anthony Thompson at the New York University School of Law and Miriam Krinsky at Fair and Just Prosecution.

  • States Shouldn't Hinder Local Gov'ts In COVID-19 Tenant Aid

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    In the face of increasing state preemption and absent other government intervention, states should explicitly allow city and county policymakers to help renters in order to avoid a pandemic-prompted eviction crisis, say Emily Benfer at Wake Forest University School of Law and Nestor Davidson at Fordham University School of Law.

  • An Abuse Of Prosecutorial Discretion In Breonna Taylor Case

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    The prosecution's decision in the Breonna Taylor grand jury proceedings to present a crucial, disputed fact — whether the officers knocked and announced themselves when they arrived at Taylor's apartment — as a settled question represents the partiality police officers often enjoy from prosecutors, says attorney Geoffrey D. Kearney.

  • Immigration Appeals Proposal Would Erode Due Process

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    A recent Trump administration proposal to limit appellate review of immigration cases would eviscerate the few existing legal protections for immigrants and asylum seekers at a time when they are already routinely denied due process in court, says Lynn Pearson at the Tahirih Justice Center.

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