Access to Justice

  • July 17, 2024

    Ohio Justices Enforce $30M Police Brutality Judgment

    The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the city of East Cleveland to pay upwards of $30 million to satisfy a judgment in favor of a man who won a jury verdict finding that police officers wrongfully detained him and caused serious injuries in the process.

  • July 15, 2024

    Cook County To Double Restorative Justice Courts

    Cook County Chief Circuit Judge Timothy Evans pledged Monday to more than double the county's so-called second-chance courts this year, praising their results so far in cutting recidivism by diverting young-offender prosecutions in favor of personal rehabilitation.

  • July 12, 2024

    Colo. Prisoners Seek Class Cert. In Slave Labor Suit

    A pair of Colorado prisoners have asked a state judge to grant class certification for their suit alleging the state is illegally using them for slave labor, detailing their experiences of punishment like extensive isolation for refusing to work.

  • July 09, 2024

    Texas Chief Justice Calls Pulling IDs Over Fines 'Stupid'

    The chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas told the Senate Judiciary Committee during a Tuesday hearing on funding civil legal aid that the practice of revoking a person's driver's license for an inability to pay court fees was "stupid."

  • July 02, 2024

    Native American Activist Leonard Peltier Denied Parole

    The U.S. Parole Commission on Tuesday denied parole for Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist serving a life sentence for his conviction in the 1975 slayings of two FBI agents, despite an array of calls for clemency over the years from such luminaries as Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama, as well as tribes, civil rights groups and federal lawmakers.

  • July 02, 2024

    Sentencing Relief Law Gets Another Supreme Court Look

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider whether a sentencing reduction provision in the First Step Act can apply to defendants whose sentences prior to the 2018 law are vacated and who are resentenced with the statute in effect.

  • July 01, 2024

    Juror Didn't Taint Trial Before Removal, Colo. Justices Say

    The Colorado Supreme Court said Monday that a trial judge's rejection of a Black defendant's challenge to a juror for alleged racial bias did not infringe on the defendant's rights, according to a majority decision that concluded the error was harmless because the juror was ultimately sent home.

  • June 28, 2024

    Access To Justice Will Return In September

    Law360's Access To Justice newsletter will be taking a summer hiatus after today's issue and will return on Sept. 7.

  • June 28, 2024

    More Legal Aid Attys Move To Addiction Epidemic Frontlines

    Aided in part by an influx of settlement money from opioid litigation, a growing number of legal aid groups are offering programs aimed at individuals and families hurt by the addiction crisis, helping them navigate civil legal issues like driver’s license reinstatements, custody and domestic violence issues, and navigating public health benefits.

  • June 28, 2024

    DC Access To Justice Leader On Making Courts User-Friendly

    Erin Larkin, the first director of the D.C. Courts’ newly created Access to Justice unit, recently spoke with Law360 about plans to boost efforts to connect people with legal services and make the courts more accessible.

  • June 27, 2024

    Rape Kit Co. Wants Wash. Ban Lifted During Free Speech Suit

    A company that sells self-administered sexual assault DNA collection kits is urging a Washington federal judge to stop the enforcement of a new state law that it claims stifles its First Amendment rights by barring the marketing of its kits as an alternative to resources offered by law enforcement and the government.

  • June 27, 2024

    Denver Must Face 2020 Protest Response Claims, Judge Rules

    A Colorado federal judge has largely rejected Denver's bid to end claims that it encouraged police to use excessive force against social justice advocates in 2020, allowing a lawsuit over the police response to move forward.

  • June 27, 2024

    Lowenstein Pro Bono Head On Guiding NJ Public Interest Law

    Law360 Pulse caught up with Alexander Shalom, head of the Lowenstein Center for Public Interest as of the beginning of June, to discuss his plans for the influential pro bono center’s future and his reflections on his time at the ACLU-NJ.

  • June 26, 2024

    Calif. Sanctioned $111M In 30-Year Prison Staffing Case

    A California federal judge has ordered state officials to hand over more than $111 million for failing to bring prison mental health staffing up to levels set by the court in 2009 in a 30-year-old case, saying Tuesday that "given defendants' contumacy, it is for the court to effect compliance."

  • June 25, 2024

    Immigration Org.'s Attys Can Be In Union, NLRB Official Says

    Attorneys at a nonprofit providing immigration legal services may remain in a voluntarily recognized union bargaining unit, a National Labor Relations Board regional director concluded, saying the attorneys are not supervisors who are excluded from unionizing under federal labor law.

  • June 24, 2024

    Mich. Justices Take Up Young Adults' Life Sentence Challenge

    Michigan's top court will weigh whether the state's mandatory life sentence for murder is unconstitutional when applied to young adults, after 19- and 20-year-olds argued that a 2022 precedent banning the punishment for 18-year-olds should extend to them.

  • June 21, 2024

    Justices Keep Domestic Abusers Disarmed, Clarify Bruen

    The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Texas man's constitutional challenge to a federal law prohibiting people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms Friday, providing limited guidance to lower courts on how to apply the high court's Second Amendment historical analogue test.

  • June 11, 2024

    DC Firms Honored For Local Legal Services Donations

    The D.C. Access to Justice Commission is recognizing 39 law firms for their financial contributions to legal aid providers in Washington, saying the private bar's support is crucial to meeting the community's needs.

  • June 10, 2024

    New 'Access DOJ' Aims To Nix Barriers, Boost Accessibility

    The U.S. Department of Justice has announced the launch of an initiative to improve access to its programs and services, including an upcoming project to make it easier to report tips about crime or other violations of law.

  • June 07, 2024

    Judge Doubts Ethnicity Questions Deserve Jury Bias Probe

    A Washington appellate judge pushed back Friday against a Filipino family who claimed a hospital's questions about their ethnicity at trial required a bias inquiry, noting race is "something that can't be ignored" in any courtroom filled with people who look different from one another.

  • June 06, 2024

    Judge Seems Likely To Make Denver Face 2020 Protest Claims

    A Colorado federal judge on Thursday appeared inclined to reject Denver's bid to end claims that it encouraged police to use excessive force against social justice advocates in 2020, pressing the city to explain how its law enforcement policies didn't amount to indifference to violating protesters' rights.

  • June 06, 2024

    Some Colo. Justices Call For Nixing Peremptory Strikes

    Three Colorado Supreme Court justices said this week that eliminating peremptory challenges would help remove "the taint of impermissible discrimination" from the jury selection process, writing in two cases involving the dismissal of Black jurors that the strikes often facilitate racism that can be near impossible for a court to address.

  • June 04, 2024

    SDNY Taps Nonprofit To Run Clinic For Pro Se Litigants

    The City Bar Justice Center announced Tuesday that it has been enlisted to take over the Southern District of New York's 8-year-old legal assistance clinic's services for self-represented litigants, as many low-income Americans face the civil legal system alone.

  • June 03, 2024

    Ga. Sheriff Wants Bookstore Suit Over Jail Book Policy Tossed

    A Georgia sheriff and jail commander asked a Georgia federal judge to toss a lawsuit brought against them by a bookstore that alleges the jail instituted an unconstitutional and arbitrary policy of only allowing books into the county jail from "authorized retailers."

  • May 31, 2024

    DOJ Looks To End A Legacy Of Bias In Sex Assault Cases

    The U.S. Department of Justice says that legal fallacies and misogynistic stereotypes often lead prosecutors to decline to charge alleged perpetrators of sexual violence, but new guidance from the department is pushing prosecutors to give more credence to victims and see that their claims are more thoroughly investigated.

Expert Analysis

  • High Court Ruling Leaves Chance For Civil Forfeiture Reform

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    Though advocates for civil forfeiture reform did not prevail in Culley v. Marshall last month, concerns voiced by a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court justices potentially leave the door open to consider stricter limits in future cases, say attorneys at Dykema.

  • NY Chief Judge Spotlights Need To Strengthen Public Defense

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    In a recent concurrence in People v. Watkins, New York Chief Judge Rowan Wilson called attention to the necessity for greater investment in public defense services, highlighting not only the urgency of current crises, but the need to embrace a more ambitious vision of equal right to counsel, says Corey Stoughton at Selendy Gay.

  • Justices' 1st Post-Bruen Gun Ruling Provides Little Guidance

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    The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in U.S. v. Rahimi that domestic abusers can be prohibited from owning guns — its first chance to clarify the new gun rights test it established in its 2022 Bruen decision — will not do much to help lower courts because it didn’t resolve one of the biggest open issues involving the Second Amendment, says Michael McCarthy at Kendall Brill.

  • DOJ Must Be Transparent With Its Death-In-Custody Data

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    In two lawsuits, the Justice Department is fighting news organizations’ efforts to disclose the data it collects about deaths in custody — a counterproductive position against transparency at odds with officials' statements recognizing that such data is necessary to save lives, says David Janovsky at the Project on Government Oversight.

  • Justices' Repeat Offender Ruling Eases Prosecutorial Hurdle

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    The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week in Brown v. U.S., clarifying which drug law applies to sentencing a repeat offender in a federal firearms case, allows courts to rely on outdated drug schedules to impose increased sentences, thus removing a significant hurdle for prosecutors, says attorney Molly Parmer.

  • Congress Must Abolish Acquitted Conduct Sentencing

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    The U.S. Sentencing Commission’s recent amendment, limiting judges’ ability to consider acquitted conduct at sentencing, is a necessary step toward ensuring fairer trials and protecting individual rights, but ultimately, Congress must end the practice altogether, say Marc Levin at the Council on Criminal Justice and Martín Sabelli at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

  • Trauma-Informed Legal Approaches For Pro Bono Attorneys

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    As National Trauma Awareness Month ends, pro bono attorneys should nevertheless continue to acknowledge the mental and physical effects of trauma, allowing them to better represent clients, and protect themselves from compassion fatigue and burnout, say Katherine Cronin at Stinson and Katharine Manning at Blackbird.

  • Public Interest Attorneys Are Key To Preserving Voting Rights

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    Fourteen states passed laws restricting or limiting voting access last year, highlighting the need to support public interest lawyers who serve as bulwarks against such antidemocratic actions — especially in an election year, says Verna Williams at Equal Justice Works.

  • Officers' Failure To Appear In Court Undermines Justice

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    Ten years of data from Philadelphia show that police officers frequently fail to appear at court hearings for which they’re subpoenaed, which has numerous consequences for defendants, crime victims and the smooth functioning of the criminal legal system, say Lindsay Graef, Sandra Mayson and Aurelie Ouss at the University of Pennsylvania and Megan Stevenson at the University of Virginia.

  • Criminal Defendants Should Have Access To Foreign Evidence

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    A New Jersey federal court recently ordered prosecutors to obtain evidence from India on behalf of the former Cognizant Technology executives they’re prosecuting — a precedent that other courts should follow to make cross-border evidentiary requests more fair and efficient, say Kaylana Mueller-Hsia and Rebecca Wexler at UC Berkeley School of Law.

  • Justices' Forfeiture Ruling Resolves Nonexistent Split

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    The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McIntosh v. U.S., holding that a trial court’s failure to enter a preliminary criminal forfeiture order prior to sentencing doesn’t bar its entry later, is unusual in that it settles an issue on which the lower courts were not divided — but it may apply in certain forfeiture disputes, says Stefan Cassella at Asset Forfeiture Law.

  • Advocating For Disability Rights In Probation And Parole

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    While the U.S. continues to over-police people with disabilities, defense attorneys can play a crucial role in ensuring that clients with disabilities who are on probation or parole have access to the accommodations they need and to which they are legally entitled, says Allison Frankel at the ACLU.

  • 11th Circ. Block Of 'Stop WOKE' Act Is Good For Public Safety

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    The Eleventh Circuit’s recent decision to uphold an injunction of Florida’s so-called Stop WOKE Act, a law that curtails workplace diversity training, means that law enforcement can continue receiving such training — an essential step toward more equitable policing and public safety, say Miriam Krinsky at Fair and Just Prosecution and Diane Goldstein at Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

  • Prosecutors' Growing Case Backlogs Need Urgent Attention

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    Growing case backlogs in prosecutors' offices around the country affect the functioning of the entire criminal legal system, so the problem's root causes must be immediately addressed, say Minnesota county prosecutor John Choi and Montana county prosecutor Audrey Cromwell.

  • Context Is Everything In Justices' Sentencing Relief Decision

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    In the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Pulsifer v. U.S. decision, limiting the number of drug offenders eligible for sentencing relief, the majority and dissent adopted very different contextual frames for interpreting the meaning of “and” — with the practical impact being that thousands more defendants will be subject to severe mandatory minimums, says Douglas Berman at Moritz College of Law​​​​​​​.

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