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Access to Justice

  • May 12, 2019

    Man Beats Murder Charge, And Odds, By Helming Own Case

    Eight years into what ultimately became a nearly 13-year prison stint, Hassan Bennett made the rare and often criticized choice to take over as his own counsel as he fought charges for a murder he insisted he didn't commit. This month, however, he finally became a free man.

  • May 12, 2019

    Mass. Justices Won't Force Probes For Juror Language Bias

    Judges aren't required to probe potential jurors for bias against non-English speakers in criminal cases where a defendant uses an interpreter, the Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled, though it urged judges to do so when asked.

  • May 12, 2019

    Getting Random With Harvard A2J Lab’s Greiner

    Jim Greiner, director of Harvard University’s Access to Justice Lab, wants to bring randomized controlled trials to the practice of law. He says the results could change the delivery of legal services and help those unable to afford lawyers.

  • May 12, 2019

    Legal Aid Groups Think Bold To Fill Rural Gaps

    Living in a vast state where wide swaths of land are unreachable by road, many Alaskans lack regular access to police, courts and the legal services that concentrate in urban areas. To combat the problem, the Alaska Legal Services Corp. had to accept one fundamental fact.

  • May 12, 2019

    Haggis Case Tests Boundaries Of NYC Gender Violence Law

    An appellate case in New York involving rape allegations against movie director Paul Haggis is serving as a showcase for a New York City law against gender-motivated violence, which supporters of the accuser say covers a wider spectrum of crimes than Haggis wants the court to believe.

  • May 12, 2019

    Can Online 'Pajama Courts' Reshape Justice?

    At any given hour of the day, someone in Utah could be wearing pajamas, sitting in bed, sipping a coffee — and handling a legal dispute over a $500 debt.

  • May 12, 2019

    Female Defenders Decry Handling Of 'Heinous' Sex Conduct

    A lawsuit against Cook County, Illinois is forcing a discussion on how to protect female public defenders from sexual harassment when they visit clients in courthouse detention facilities and jails. 

  • May 5, 2019

    Death Row Case Stirs Fears Over Quality Of Defense Counsel

    Of all the many cases an attorney might handle, death penalty cases might be the most high-stakes, which is why most people expect that the attorneys who take such cases are the best of the best.

  • May 5, 2019

    NYPD Blocked From Using Sealed Info In New Probes

    The New York City Police Department can’t use information found within sealed arrest records when they investigate other matters, as the practice is barred by state law, a New York judge has ruled in a putative class action challenging the practice.

  • May 5, 2019

    Akerman Taps NY Pro Bono Vet To Head Volunteer Efforts

    Akerman LLP has added a specialist in marshaling attorneys for volunteer efforts as the new head of its own pro bono projects, the firm has announced.

  • May 5, 2019

    4 Times Public Defenders Landed In Ethical Hot Water

    Public defenders are a key cog in the U.S. criminal justice system, but as with any subset of attorneys, there are outliers who flout ethics rules. Here, Law360 looks at four times when public defenders found themselves in ethical hot water.

  • May 5, 2019

    5.1B People Lack Access to Justice, Landmark Report Finds

    For the first time, a collection of world leaders and justice advocates have quantified the challenge facing the United Nations’ stated goal of ensuring equal access to justice for all by the year 2030. Their findings paint a grim picture of a justice gap that spans two-thirds of the world population.

  • April 29, 2019

    Aggressive ICE Tactics Set Up Heavyweight Clash In Mass.

    The Trump administration's zealous approach to immigration enforcement at courthouses has resulted in a showdown between the federal government and progressive state prosecutors in Massachusetts, reaching a boiling point in recent days with the indictment of a sitting judge and a first-of-its-kind lawsuit by two district attorneys.

  • April 28, 2019

    Big Name GCs Implore Congress To Boost Legal Aid Funding

    General counsel from Walmart, Amazon, General Motors and more than 250 other American companies are urging Congress to increase federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation, the country’s largest single funder of civil legal aid, despite the Trump administration’s repeated calls to ax the program.

  • April 28, 2019

    Their TrialWatch Begins: Clooneys Target Global Injustice

    It’s not every day the former United Nations high commissioner for human rights makes fun of George Clooney’s basketball game while the presidents of Microsoft and Columbia University look on.

  • April 28, 2019

    Pro Bono Team Helps Overhaul Colo. Treatment Of Mentally Ill

    In 2006, Eugene Zuniga was arrested in Colorado for stealing a bike and was declared unable to stand trial because of severe mental illness. But instead of being sent for treatment, he spent five months in a local jail without appropriate services, causing his mental state to deteriorate even further.

  • April 28, 2019

    US Prison Population Down, But Some States Buck Trend

    There were nearly 20,000 fewer people in state and federal prisons in 2018 than in 2017, a 1.8% decline fueled by steeper decreases in states such as Missouri and New York — and offset by increases in 19 states, according to a newly released report.

  • April 28, 2019

    Could Politics Make Courts A Sidekick Branch Of Government?

    Across the country, lawmakers are trying to alter how the judges in their home states are selected, crafting a wave of legislation this year that critics say will undermine the integrity of what’s supposed to be a politically independent branch of government and, with it, the rule of law.

  • April 28, 2019

    Blood Draw Case Tests Limits Of Consent To Cop Searches

    A drunk driving suspect's challenge to a blood draw ordered by police officers without a warrant while he was unconscious has the U.S. Supreme Court facing bigger questions of whether a statute can convey someone's consent to a government search.

  • April 26, 2019

    Legal Aid Atty's Firing Violated Disability Law, EEOC Says

    An organization that provides legal services to poor and underage defendants violated federal law when it terminated an attorney diagnosed with various mental health issues rather than transfer her to another role, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged Friday in Pennsylvania federal court.

Expert Analysis

  • Immigration Enforcement Under Trump Neglects Rule Of Law

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    What President Donald Trump and his administration have described as a “humanitarian crisis” at the U.S. southern border is, in reality, a Trump-exacerbated crisis — which demands real solutions, not incendiary rhetoric, cruelty and lawlessness, says David Leopold of Ulmer & Berne.

  • Calif. Lawmakers Should Stay Out Of USC Sex Abuse Case

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    A pending settlement between the University of Southern California and 17,000 former students would resolve claims over the actions of a sexually abusive gynecologist. But proposed state legislation could undermine the settlement, says Shook Hardy partner Phil Goldberg, director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Center for Civil Justice.

  • Utah's Online Dispute Platform Is Streamlining Small Claims

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    By making small claims litigation cheaper, faster and more convenient, especially for those facing difficulty appearing in court due to work schedules or geographic distances, an online pilot program in Utah is resolving cases that would otherwise go unfiled — or defaulted upon, says Martin Pritikin, dean of Concord Law School at Purdue University Global.

  • The First Step Act Is A Major Step For Sentencing Reform

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    While many have heralded the First Step Act as an example of bipartisan cooperation, the mainstream press has said surprisingly little about the law's specific sentencing improvements — many stemming from recommendations made by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, says Judge Patti Saris, chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

  • How To Improve Jurors' Perceptions Of Legal Outcomes

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    When practitioners use methods to emphasize procedural fairness during jury selection, they can engender more faith in the justice system among potential jurors — which can extend beyond trial, says Natalie Gordon of trial consulting firm DOAR.

  • The Role Of Data In An Access To Justice Movement

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    To change the system, we need the wider community to see beyond personal stories of injustice to the “complete picture” of the lack of access to civil justice. Collecting data, indexing it and making it comprehensible is a key part of painting that picture, say James Gamble and Amy Widman of Fordham Law School's National Center for Access to Justice.

  • Changing The Conversation On Bail Reform

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    Instead of looking at “bail reform” as a choice of bail or no bail, we need to focus on reforming four major aspects of the criminal justice process that lead up to the point of bond determination, says Wilford Pinkney of FUSE Fellows.

  • How Do We Know If Prosecutors Are Doing A Good Job?

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    From Special Counsel Robert Mueller to Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx, prosecutors are receiving plenty of negative attention in the news, but there is no clear standard for judging prosecutor performance, says Jeffrey Bellin, a professor at William & Mary Law School.

  • The Criminal Justice System's Algorithms Need Transparency

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    Trade secret protections for pretrial risk assessment algorithms must be eliminated, or else criminal defendants will be unable to challenge or even examine the data being used to keep them incarcerated, says Idaho state Rep. Greg Chaney, whose bill forcing algorithmic transparency recently passed the Idaho Legislature.

  • Coercive Process For Material Witnesses Needs Reform

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    The current application of the material witness statute is deeply flawed and antithetical to the fundamentals of American criminal justice, say attorneys with Buckley LLP.