Access to Justice

  • March 08, 2024

    Debt-Stricken Homeowners Fight Back After High Court Ruling

    Ten months after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision finding a Minnesota county wrongly held onto excess proceeds it reaped after seizing a woman’s condominium and selling it to settle a tax debt, states are scrambling to reexamine their laws as financially distressed homeowners file new suits challenging the practice.

  • March 08, 2024

    NY Atty's 10-Year Fight Upends Wrongful Murder Conviction

    Garrett Ordower's career has evolved considerably over the last decade. But from his time at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, to his current roles at Scale LLP and as general counsel for a legal tech startup, there's been one constant: his commitment to clearing Steven Ruffin's name for a murder he didn't commit.

  • March 08, 2024

    Thompson Coburn Duo Lead 'Army Of Women' In Documentary

    In waging an uphill battle against the city of Austin, Thompson Coburn LLP partners Jennifer Ecklund and Elizabeth Myers secured a groundbreaking settlement for sexual assault survivors whose cases were never prosecuted, but what they discovered was that standing up for the survivors meant more to them than that legal victory.

  • March 08, 2024

    Judge Orders Probe Into NY Atty's Secret Courtroom Meeting

    A New York court will look into whether a secret meeting last year between the local attorney representing a man charged with murder and the law clerk for the judge trying his case amounted to an ethical violation and possibly infringed the man's constitutional right to a fair trial, attorneys told Law360 Friday.

  • March 06, 2024

    Most States Allow Abusive Debt Collection, Report Says

    A majority of states lack legal guardrails preventing people burdened by debt from facing legal jeopardy and even jail time, the National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham University School of Law recently found.

  • March 04, 2024

    'Access To Justice Means Language Justice,' DOJ Official Says

    The U.S. Department of Justice said some language barriers in the justice system have been mitigated but that more work needs to be done to ensure non-English speakers have equitable access to the courts. 

  • March 01, 2024

    Conn. Lawmakers OK $25.2M Deal For 2 Jailed In 1985 Killing

    The Connecticut General Assembly's bipartisan joint judiciary committee on Friday unanimously approved a $25.2 million settlement for two men who lawmakers agreed were improperly incarcerated for more than 30 years after a chain of failures led to wrongful convictions in a December 1985 New Milford murder.

  • February 28, 2024

    Justices Allow Idaho Execution, But State 'Unable To Proceed'

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the way for Idaho to execute a man for the murder of a fellow inmate, refusing to review his claim that Idaho's continued execution of prisoners whose death sentences were issued by judges and not juries violates the Eighth Amendment.

  • February 26, 2024

    Boston Moves To Settle Suit Over 2016 Police Shooting

    The city of Boston has reached an agreement in principle to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the mother of a Black man who was shot to death by Boston police officers in 2016, according to a Monday filing.

  • February 26, 2024

    Murder, Robbery Exoneree Seeks $1M For Lost Years

    A Massachusetts man who spent more than half his life in prison before being exonerated for a 1994 murder and robbery has filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in compensation under a 20-year-old state law.

  • February 23, 2024

    Mass. Ruling Seen As 'Sea Change' In Young Adult Sentencing

    A first-of-its-kind ruling by Massachusetts’ top appeals court recently declared sentences of life without parole for anyone under 21 to be unconstitutional, and advocates say the decision and the science backing it up could provide a road map for young adult sentencing reform nationwide.

  • February 23, 2024

    New Group Aims To Help Attys Meet Middle Class Legal Needs

    For middle-class Americans who may make too much money to qualify for legal aid services, affording an attorney to assist with civil matters like divorces and estate planning can still be a financial impossibility. The recently launched Above The Line Network, however, is on a mission to promote cost-conscious lawyering models to put legal services within economic reach for a big and underserved middle market.

  • February 23, 2024

    WilmerHale Scores Win For Hearing Impaired Mass. Prisoners

    After an eight-year legal fight, WilmerHale and several nonprofit legal advocacy organizations recently won a major ruling from a federal judge to help change how deaf and hard-of-hearing Massachusetts prisoners receive emergency notifications and other announcements.

  • February 23, 2024

    ABA Report Says Electronic Monitoring Of Migrants Is Punitive

    The electronic monitoring of noncitizens by immigration authorities amounts to a form of detention that imposes a "considerable human toll" on immigrants and their families and may even violate constitutional guarantees of due process, according to a report commissioned by the American Bar Association that was released Friday.

  • February 23, 2024

    ACLU Kicks Off Clemency Project To Reduce NJ Incarceration

    The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey has launched a new initiative aimed at reducing sentences for incarcerated victims of domestic violence and people facing extreme trial penalties, advocating for a framework that calls on the governor to holistically consider injustices facing those groups of people when making decisions on clemency.

  • February 23, 2024

    How Jenner & Block Is Living Up To $250M Pro Bono Pledge

    After pledging four years ago to provide $250 million in free legal assistance through 2025, the co-chair of Jenner & Block LLP’s pro bono committee told Law360 recently that the firm was already 80% of the way toward its goal as attorneys tackle matters involving immigration, humanitarian parole, voting access and more.

  • February 21, 2024

    Justices Reject Ga.'s Bid To Retry Man Acquitted Of Murder

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked Georgia's attempt to again prosecute an accused murderer whose trial ended in contradictory verdicts, finding that "an acquittal is an acquittal" regardless of a simultaneous guilty verdict for the same offense.

  • February 20, 2024

    Jurors' Death Penalty Views Not Tied To Race, Colo. Justices Say

    The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously rejected a Black man's efforts to reverse his 2008 murder conviction for a drive-by shooting, with the justices finding that prosecutors' dismissal of two Black jurors did not amount to improper racial bias.

  • 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.

Expert Analysis

  • 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.

  • 'True Threat' Ruling May Ensnare Kids' Online Speech

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    The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Counterman v. Colorado decision correctly held that a showing of intent is required to prosecute someone for true threats, but the amorphous standard adopted by the court risks overcriminalizing children’s use of social media and text-based communications, say Adam Pollet at Eversheds Sutherland and Suzanne La Pierre at Human Rights for Kids.

  • More States Should Join Effort To Close Legal Services Gap

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    Colorado is the most recent state to allow other types of legal providers, not just attorneys, to offer specific services in certain circumstances — and more states should rethink the century-old assumptions that shape our current regulatory rules, say Natalie Anne Knowlton and Janet Drobinske at the University of Denver.

  • The Pop Culture Docket: Judge Elrod On 'Jury Duty'

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    Though the mockumentary series “Jury Duty” features purposely outrageous characters, it offers a solemn lesson about the simple but brilliant design of the right to trial by jury, with an unwitting protagonist who even John Adams may have welcomed as an impartial foreperson, says Fifth Circuit Judge Jennifer Elrod.

  • A Judge's Pitch To Revive The Jury Trial

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    Ohio state Judge Pierre Bergeron explains how the decline of the jury trial threatens public confidence in the judiciary and even democracy as a whole, and he offers ideas to restore this sacred right.

  • People In Prison Should Have Access To Digital Technology

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    There are a number of reasons why people who are incarcerated should have access to digital communication technology — from facilitating reentry to saving lives in a future pandemic — but they need the means and the necessary legal protections to do so, say NYU Law student Suchy Kahlon and First Amendment attorney Dan Novack.

  • Mallory Gives Plaintiffs A Better Shot At Justice

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    Critics of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Mallory v. Norfolk Southern claim it opens the door to litigation tourism, but the ruling simply gives plaintiffs more options — enabling them to seek justice against major corporations in the best possible court, say Rayna Kessler and Ethan Seidenberg at Robins Kaplan.

  • 5th Circ. Concurrence May Help Erode Qualified Immunity

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    A Fifth Circuit judge’s recent concurrence in Rogers v. Jarrett, highlighting new legal scholarship that questions the historical foundations of the qualified immunity doctrine, provides the basis for additional arguments for plaintiffs to secure legal recourse when government officials violate their rights, says Brian Collins at Van Naarden Spizer.

  • How Public Defenders Can Use Social Media To Drive Change

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    In addition to their courtroom advocacy, indigent defenders should strategically use social media to develop a public voice that can counter police and prosecutor narratives, call attention to injustices and inspire policy shifts, say Russell Gold at the University of Alabama and Kay Levine at Emory University.

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