Access to Justice

  • 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.

  • 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.

Expert Analysis

  • Algorithms Have Potential To Reduce Sentencing Disparities

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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.

  • Nonprofit Ruling Is An Important Step For Nonlawyer Practice

    Author Photo

    A New York federal judge’s recent ruling that will allow nonprofit Upsolve to give legal advice to low-income debtors without a license is a positive development for nonlawyer practice, but presents questions about how to ensure similar programs can exist without fighting dodgy constitutional battles, says Ronald Minkoff at Frankfurt Kurnit.

  • DOJ's Cautious Return To Supplemental Enviro Projects

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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

    Author Photo

    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.

Can't find the article you're looking for? Click here to search the Access to Justice archive.
Hello! I'm Law360's automated support bot.

How can I help you today?

For example, you can type:
  • I forgot my password
  • I took a free trial but didn't get a verification email
  • How do I sign up for a newsletter?
Ask a question!