Access to Justice

  • February 20, 2024

    Alito 'Concerned' Jurors Can Be Axed For Religious Beliefs

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said Tuesday he is "concerned" about the prospect of potential jurors being dismissed because of their religious beliefs, as the justices declined to hear a case in which Christian jurors were excused over their views on homosexuality.

  • February 16, 2024

    Inmate Suicides Linked To Federal Prison Bureau's Failures

    Federal prisons have for years been plagued by "a multitude of operational failures" that have resulted in inmates dying, many of them by suicide, a federal watchdog has found.

  • February 15, 2024

    What Rescheduling Pot Would Mean For Criminal Justice Reform

    While federal drug enforcers mull a recommendation from health regulators to loosen restrictions on marijuana, criminal justice reformers are warning that rescheduling the drug would not realize President Joe Biden's campaign promise to decriminalize marijuana.

  • February 14, 2024

    San Francisco's Ankle Monitor Rules Put On Hold

    A federal judge in California has halted the San Francisco Sheriff's Office from enforcing rules that forced criminal defendants released pretrial under electronic monitoring to agree to be subjected to warrantless and suspicionless searches at any time and allow their GPS data to be shared among law enforcement agencies, court documents show.

  • February 13, 2024

    Colo. Justices Struggle To Draw Lines On Jury Race Bias Rule

    Colorado Supreme Court justices acknowledged Tuesday that current rules allow prosecutors to improperly strike people of color from juries for reasons linked to their race, but they grappled with whether they could revise the standard without going too far.

  • February 13, 2024

    4th Circ. Won't Upend Life Sentence Over Trump Phone Call

    The Fourth Circuit refused Tuesday to disturb the life sentence of a man convicted of murder and drug trafficking, holding that even if former President Donald Trump said he intended to commute the sentence during a phone call, that intent isn't enough.

  • February 13, 2024

    Milbank, Perlmutter Center Pair Up To Fight Injustices In Court

    Milbank LLP has pledged $1 million to create an exoneration and resentencing review unit at Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law's Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice as part of an alliance aimed at fighting inequities in the criminal justice system, the firm said Tuesday.

  • February 12, 2024

    BigLaw Slams Hochul Plan To Divert Client Trust Interest Cash

    A long list of BigLaw attorneys, firm leaders and legal groups have urged New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to reconsider her plan to divert $100 million in interest earned on lawyer trust accounts that typically goes toward legal aid for low-income New Yorkers, calling the move "misguided" and cautioning that it could create "an existential threat" to civil legal services.

  • February 09, 2024

    New York Teacher Pays $75K For Mock Slave Auction Harm

    A northern New York teacher will pay $75,000 for holding a mock slave auction of Black students in her classroom, settling a federal suit over a lesson a 10-year-old student's mother said emotionally damaged her son.

  • February 08, 2024

    NYC Police Union Can't 'Veto' NYPD Protest Deal, Judge Says

    A federal judge on Wednesday shot down a bid by New York City's largest police union to block a sweeping reform of police protocols for handling protests, saying the union could not torpedo a settlement that ended a high-profile, sprawling legal case arising out of the 2020 demonstrations against police brutality.

  • February 07, 2024

    Fla. Courts' Fines And Fees Trap Poor In Debt, ABA Finds

    The public defense group of the American Bar Association on Wednesday released a comprehensive report lambasting the fines and fees system in Florida's county-level misdemeanor court system, recommending the courts eliminate so-called user fees and establish an "ability-to-pay standard."

  • February 06, 2024

    Electrocution, Firing Squad Aren't Cruel, SC High Court Told

    The government of South Carolina told the state's top court Tuesday that executing death row prisoners by electrocution or firing squad does not violate the state's constitution because there isn't sufficient evidence that those methods are either too painful, gruesome or out of step with what society at large accepts.

  • February 02, 2024

    Birmingham, Ala., Hit with $4.5M Verdict Over Police Shooting

    An Alabama federal jury hit the city of Birmingham with a $4.5 million verdict over a fatal police shooting, finding that a city officer violated the constitutional rights of two people when he fired upon them while they were immobilized in a vehicle at the end of a car chase.

  • February 02, 2024

    ACLU Atty On How To Protect Civil Liberties In The AI Era

    Because artificial intelligence and algorithmic systems often operate in the shadows, there's a new need for legislation, regulation and enforcement to ensure the technology doesn't undercut civil liberties by engaging in discrimination in housing, education or employment, according to Cody Venzke, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

  • February 02, 2024

    3 BigLaw Firms Guide Trans Rights Groups In Pending Merger

    A trio of large law firms are providing pro bono representation to help two national transgender civil rights organizations navigate a planned merger that the groups' leaders say will amplify their voices as they advocate for trans people across the country.

  • February 02, 2024

    Law360 Seeks Members For Its 2024 Editorial Boards

    Law360 is looking for avid readers of its publications to serve as members of its 2024 editorial advisory boards.

  • January 25, 2024

    High Court Splits In Refusal To Stay Ala.'s Nitrogen Execution

    The U.S. Supreme Court declined Thursday night to intervene in Alabama's second attempt to execute an inmate who previously survived a botched lethal injection, with the court's three liberal justices saying they would have heard the man's claims that he was being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

  • January 25, 2024

    Seattle Settles BLM Protesters' Police Brutality Suit For $10M

    The city of Seattle has agreed to a $10 million settlement to end a lawsuit brought by more than 50 protesters who say they were brutalized by its police force during Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the summer of 2020.

  • January 24, 2024

    10th Circ. Rules Counsel Duped Client Into Guilty Plea

    In a precedential ruling, the Tenth Circuit has allowed a Black Oklahoma man to withdraw his guilty plea on felony possession of ammunition charges, determining that his court-appointed lawyer incorrectly told him he would not face an impartial jury of his peers, thus robbing him of his constitutional rights.

  • January 24, 2024

    Justices Won't Stop Ala.'s 2nd Attempt To Execute Prisoner

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to pause the looming execution of an Alabama prisoner who survived the state's previous attempt to kill him via injection, allowing Alabama to perform the nation's first execution using nitrogen gas.

  • January 23, 2024

    Full 5th Circ. Probes Ruling Against Miss. Lifelong Voting Ban

    The whole U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Tuesday aggressively questioned whether a three-judge panel of the same court was correct in finding in August that a Mississippi lifelong voting ban for people convicted of certain felonies violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual" punishment.

  • January 22, 2024

    High Court Will Review Okla. Inmate's Innocence Claim

    The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the case of an Oklahoma death row inmate who defense attorneys and the state's attorney general agree was wrongfully convicted of the 1997 killing of an Oklahoma City man because prosecutors failed to turn over critical information about their key witness.

  • January 19, 2024

    Ala. Inmate Tells Justices 2nd Execution Attempt Violates Rights

    An Alabama death row inmate asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his looming execution and decide whether the state, after previously failing to kill him via lethal injection, can try again with a new method, or if he is being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

  • January 19, 2024

    New Mexico Judiciary Establishes Rural Clerkship Program

    The New Mexico Judiciary is launching a Rural Justice Initiative Clerkship Program, which creates four paid clerk positions for attorneys who will work with state judicial district chief judges.

  • January 19, 2024

    Baker Donelson Reinvests In ABA's Free Legal Answers

    Baker Donelson announced on Friday a monetary and resource investment into the American Bar Association's Free Legal Answers clinic, which the law firm helped establish a decade ago.

Expert Analysis

  • 911 Call Scrutiny Should Not Be Used To Identify Suspects

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    Though the use of 911 call analysis to identify suspects continues to spread across the country, this scientifically unproven method opens the door to wrongful convictions, so prosecutors should review investigations that relied on the technique, and lawmakers should ban it nationwide, say Miriam Krinsky at Fair and Just Prosecution and Isabelle Cohn at the Innocence Project.

  • 6 Practice Pointers For Pro Bono Immigration Practice

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    An attorney taking on their first pro bono immigration matter may find the law and procedures beguiling, but understanding key deadlines, the significance of individual immigration judges' rules and specialized aspects of the practice can help avoid common missteps, says Steven Malm at Haynes Boone.

  • 8th Circ. Redistricting Ruling Imperils The Voting Rights Act

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    The Eighth Circuit’s recent ruling in Arkansas NAACP v. Arkansas Board of Apportionment, holding that private plaintiffs don't have standing to sue in redistricting cases, creates a circuit split, and, if upheld, would nearly destroy the Voting Rights Act, says William Brewer at Brewer Storefront.

  • Justices May Clarify Expert Witness Confrontation Confusion

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    After oral arguments in Smith v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to hold that expert witness opinions that rely on out-of-court testimonial statements for their factual basis are unconstitutional, thus resolving some of the complications created by the court’s confrontation clause jurisprudence, says Richard Friedman at the University of Michigan Law School.

  • Immigration Detention Should Offer Universal Legal Counsel

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    Given the large backlog of immigration court cases and the more than 70% of people in immigration detention without counsel in 2023, the system should establish a universal right to federally funded representation for anyone facing deportation, similar to the public defender model, say Laura Lunn and Shaleen Morales at the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network.

  • UX Research And Design Is Crucial For Justice Technologies

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    It’s essential that new access-to-justice digital tools incorporate user experience research and design methodologies to enhance access and accessibility, improve efficiency in processes and service delivery, and reduce risk, says Sarah Mauet at Innovation for Justice.

  • Higher Juror Compensation Trend Is Good For Justice System

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    This year a number of states increased daily juror compensation rates after decades of stagnation — a positive development that facilitates more representative juries, aids decision making and boosts public confidence in the legal system, says Cary Silverman at Shook Hardy.

  • The Pop Culture Docket: Judge D'Emic On Moby Grape

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    The 1968 Moby Grape song "Murder in My Heart for the Judge" tells the tale of a fictional defendant treated with scorn by the judge, illustrating how much the legal system has evolved in the past 50 years, largely due to problem-solving courts and the principles of procedural justice, says Kings County Supreme Court Administrative Judge Matthew D'Emic.

  • 6th Circ. Case Eases Path For Some Excessive Force Claims

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    The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear Fox v. Campbell, leaving in place the Sixth Circuit’s holding that excessive force claims based on police shootings can be founded on the Fourth Amendment even if no one is hit by gunfire — which will be helpful for some civil rights litigants, says Sharon Fairley at the University of Chicago Law School.

  • In Culley, Justices Unlikely To Set New Forfeiture Standards

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    As the U.S. Supreme Court considers Culley v. Marshall — a case with the potential to reshape civil asset forfeiture practices — the justices' recent comments at oral argument suggest that, while some of them may be concerned about civil forfeiture abuse, they are unlikely to significantly change the status quo, say attorneys at Jackson Walker.

  • The Meaning Of 'Bail' Has Strayed Far From Its Legal Roots

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    As the pretrial system faces increasing scrutiny nationwide, states must recognize that imposing financial bail conditions harms communities, and that pretrial release practices must be realigned with foundational American legal principles — including the idea that money-based detention violates due process, says Matt Alsdorf at the Center for Effective Public Policy.

  • Learning From San Francisco's Jury Pay Pilot Program

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    A pilot program in San Francisco shows that increasing compensation for lower-income jurors can foster more diverse juries and boost access to justice — and provides lessons for establishing similar projects in jurisdictions around the U.S., say San Francisco Treasurer José Cisneros, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Public Defender Mano Raju.

  • In Domestic Abuse Case, Justices Must Note Gun Law History

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    In deciding whether laws prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing firearms are unconstitutional in U.S. v. Rahimi, the U.S. Supreme Court should recognize that history is replete with relevant legal analogues restricting gun ownership, says Sarah Bennett at Sodoma Law.

  • The Pop Culture Docket: Judge Espinosa On 'Lincoln Lawyer'

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    The murder trials in Netflix’s “The Lincoln Lawyer” illustrate the stark contrast between the ethical high ground that fosters and maintains the criminal justice system's integrity, and the ethical abyss that can undermine it, with an important reminder for all legal practitioners, say Judge Adam Espinosa and Andrew Howard at the Colorado 2nd Judicial District Court.

  • Civil Legal Aid Cuts Are A Threat To Justice And Prosperity

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    The U.S. House of Representatives' budget proposal for fiscal year 2024 includes $71 million in cuts to civil legal aid, but the measure overlooks the economic benefits of access to justice and the many ways that opening the courts to more citizens can foster both basic human rights and economic growth, says David Carter at Calloquy.

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