Law360 spoke with nearly a dozen public defenders about how the pandemic has impacted their work lives, their emotional health, and what must change to create a more just legal system during a pandemic that has already impacted communities unjustly.
Human trafficking survivors are often burdened by a paper trail of arrests and charges tied to their trafficking, and most paths to expunge their criminal records are narrow and difficult to navigate. Some state lawmakers, however, are pushing to pass more comprehensive criminal record relief laws to help survivors rebuild their lives.
Criminal justice activists have spent decades educating the public about racism and inequities in the justice system. Their counterparts on the civil side haven’t managed to spark as much attention and outrage. But with the pandemic leaving many out of work and facing eviction, civil justice reform could finally stand in the spotlight.
Prisons across the country have been ravaged by outbreaks of COVID-19, and many inmates have turned to the courts to enforce measures to curb the virus’ spread. But they may face an uphill climb in showing that detention centers were deliberately indifferent to the pandemic.
Since 2017, Lizbeth Mateo and her client, Edith Espinal, have been fighting to prevent Espinal from being deported. With her client finally free to return home, Mateo is now facing the possibility of her own removal.
The senators who wrote the First Step Act of 2018 have told the Supreme Court that they did not intend to exclude low-level crack offenders from the law's sentencing relief, contrary to the findings of some circuit courts across the country.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday vacated a Fifth Circuit ruling that had granted immunity to a Texas prison guard who allegedly pepper-sprayed an inmate in the face in 2016, citing a November decision that found prison officers liable for obviously egregious behavior.
Jamie Beck's life — and career trajectory in a major law firm — changed after she attended a human trafficking awareness training session hosted by the Lawyers Club of San Diego. Here, she talks with Law360 about legal nonprofit Free to Thrive, which she launched to support survivors.
A team of Goodwin Procter attorneys in January secured the compassionate release of Andy Cox, a 57-year-old serving a life prison sentence for a nonviolent crime stemming from growing cannabis in Georgia.
Eric Lander is one of the best-known genetic scientists in the United States and a figurehead for improved forensic science practices across the criminal justice system. Experts, including several whose work intersected with his, weigh in on what his anticipated cabinet-level appointment could mean for these priorities.
As the nation celebrates Black History Month this February, more BigLaw firms have joined the movement to combat racism and inequality by helping Black business owners in their community.
While there are cases in which children are in danger in their homes, advocates say the broad mandate of child welfare agencies often ends up being used as a prosecution tool. New York public defender organizations have asked state lawmakers to overhaul policies that often result in the separation of children from their parents, which they say disproportionately targets families of color.
The COVID-19 pandemic has both emphasized the importance of more widespread legal aid and made administering such support more difficult, according to legal professionals, including state supreme court justices, speaking at a recent conference.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on New York state's already antiquated and underfunded court system, making judicial reforms even more critical to Bill Silverman, Proskauer Rose LLP's pro bono partner and the newest chair of The Fund for Modern Courts.
The civil rights implications of discriminatory online targeted advertising practices are at the center of a draft proposal to amend a federal law regarded by its proponents as the bedrock of the modern internet, but which critics say shields major tech platforms from accountability.
The ACLU of Ohio, along with attorneys at Thompson Hine LLP and Lambda Legal, recently successfully challenged Ohio's policy forbidding transgender people from correcting their birth certificates to match their gender identity, convincing a judge that the state's policy was discriminatory.
Law enforcement officials in counties across the state of Colorado are working to keep mentally ill people out of their jails and prisons by creating new programs to detect mental health problems before these individuals enter the criminal justice system.
President Joe Biden's promise to secure environmental justice is an ambitious effort to achieve long-sought equity for poor and minority communities that experts say could maybe, finally, put teeth behind the lip service that has been paid to the concept. Here, Law360 breaks down four major environmental justice components in Biden's executive order on climate change.
At least five states are in various stages of consideration and implementation of new attorney regulations that would expand the universe of who can practice law — in some cases to include nonlawyers.
As the U.S. Supreme Court once again weighs cases involving juvenile sentencing and nonunanimous jury verdicts, Milbank LLP, in conjunction with the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights, has been working on the intersection of both issues in the Pelican State.
A small number of academics are employing the same scientific studies used to test medicines to research access to justice, but they have yet to overcome objections from activists concerned about randomizing "treatments" like legal aid and bail.
The federal Office For Access to Justice sought to expand legal aid, cut court fines and protect the right to counsel — until the Trump Justice Department closed it down in 2018. Now, under a Biden administration, the office could be revived and perhaps even reimagined.
Two weeks after the U.S. Capitol riot, questions remain over disparities in the policing and prosecution of those involved compared with the response to Black Lives Matter and other recent protests. Policies and precedent, however, don’t provide clear answers, experts say.
Donald Trump's flurry of midnight pardons before leaving office gave a welcome reprieve to a dozen nonviolent cannabis offenders, but many were passed over in what advocates close to the effort described as a hectic, last-minute blitz that underscored the need for sweeping pardon reform.
Racial disparities between Connecticut residents who are stopped for traffic violations have decreased over the past five years, but more Black and brown people are still being pulled over by traffic cops in the state.
A mixture of tech companies and law and accounting firms are taking part in a new experiment underway in Utah designed to cut down barriers to practicing law and open doors to more innovative services for legal needs that are going by the wayside for a huge portion of Americans.
Dr. Howard Henderson leads the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University and recently spoke with Law360 about the vision behind the center, the importance of culturally responsive research, and the disparities in the criminal justice system.
National Police Accountability Project, a nationwide advocacy group supporting legislation aimed at curtailing police violence, has tapped the ACLU of Kansas' top lawyer as the first legal director in its history.
Joe Biden's election as president has sparked hope among criminal justice advocates and organizations that his administration will overhaul the U.S. criminal justice system and implement reforms they have been seeking for years.
The U.S. Department of Justice's recent rescission of a 2017 memo that required prosecutors to charge federal defendants with the offenses that would carry the most severe penalties should be welcomed by prosecutors associations as supporting prosecutorial discretion, even when the new policy may lead to leniency, says Marc Levin at the Council on Criminal Justice.
President Joe Biden's recent executive order to phase out the federal government's use of private prisons is a welcome start to what needs to be a broad reform of the prison system — where profit-based incentives to incarcerate run deep, says Jeffrey Bornstein at Rosen Bien.
On the heels of nationwide calls to address systemic racism and inequality, five sitting state and federal judges shed light on the disparities that exist in the justice system and how to guard against bias in this series of Law360 guest articles.
Many state courts' failure to gather basic data on sentencing and other important criminal justice metrics frustrates efforts to keep checks on judges’ implicit biases and reduce racial disparities, say Justice Michael Donnelly at the Ohio Supreme Court and Judge Pierre Bergeron at the Ohio First District Court of Appeals.
Judges should take into consideration the several points of law enforcement and prosecutorial discretion — from traffic stops to charging decisions and sentencing recommendations — that often lead to race-based disparate treatment before a criminal defendant even reaches the courthouse, say Judge Juan Villaseñor and Laurel Quinto at Colorado's Eighth Judicial District Court.
To close the diversity gap between the judiciary and the litigants that regularly appear in criminal courts, institutions including police departments, prosecutor offices and defense law firms must be committed to advancing Black and Latino men, says New York Supreme Court Justice Erika Edwards.
The U.S. Supreme Court must be careful not to undo 15 years of Eighth Amendment case law and expose young adults to unconstitutional life without parole sentences in its upcoming decision in Jones v. Mississippi, says Marsha Levick at the Juvenile Law Center.
With unconscious biases deeply embedded in the court system, judges must take steps to guard against the power and influence of stereotypes during jury selection, evidence admissibility hearings, bail proceedings and other areas of judicial decision making, says U.S. Circuit Judge Bernice Donald.
Blanket rules that bar recording or dissemination of remote public court proceedings impede presumptive common law and First Amendment right of access, greatly expand courts' powers over nonparties, and likely run afoul of U.S. Supreme Court precedent, says Matthew Schafer at ViacomCBS.
A recent review of the New York state court system recommends addressing pervasive racism through anti-bias trainings and better discrimination complaint protocols, but such efforts only scratch the surface of systemic racism in the law, says Jason Wu at the Legal Aid Society.
Equitable, research-based pretrial prison release decisions are not lucrative for the bail bond industry, which has led to misleading attacks against data-driven assessment tools, say Madeline Carter and Alison Shames at the Center for Effective Public Policy.
Courts must simplify their procedures to make bankruptcy more accessible to those who can't afford lawyers, especially as the pandemic drives bankruptcies to unprecedented levels, says Robert Gordon, a principal at Lerch Early and a former bankruptcy judge.
William Pizzi's argument in "The Supreme Court's Role in Mass Incarceration" that the U.S. Supreme Court is responsible for the high rate of incarceration is compelling, but his criticism overlooks the positive dimensions of the criminal procedure decisions under Chief Justice Earl Warren, says U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
Prison releases resulting from coronavirus and earlier legislation proved that not all nonviolent offenders need to be jailed; this should spur penal system reform that includes expanded probationary alternatives, tax incentives for companies that employ ex-offenders and government transparency to ensure unbiased sentencing, says Abbe Lowell at Winston & Strawn.
Gerald Knapton at Ropers Majeski analyzes U.S. and U.K. experiments to explore alternative business structures and independent oversight for law firms, which could lead to innovative approaches to increasing access to legal services.