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Access to Justice

  • March 17, 2019

    Tenant Access To Eviction Counsel Gains Steam In Philly

    After spending two years providing low-income tenants facing possible eviction with pro bono legal representation, Philadelphia's mayor and City Council are taking steps to make the pilot program permanent.

  • March 17, 2019

    Epstein Case Gives Victims’ Rights A Defining Moment

    A blockbuster decision last month that a secret non-prosecution deal between the government and a millionaire sex offender violated the Crime Victims Rights Act highlights the importance of making sure victims have a seat at the table, experts say.

  • March 17, 2019

    Philly’s Skewed Bail System Stranding The Poor, Suit Says

    Josh Glenn should have been going to high school when he turned 17, but instead he was sitting in a Philadelphia jail cell after his family was unable to afford bail. More than a decade later, he's joined the ACLU in a newly filed lawsuit challenging allegedly excessive bail practices on the part of Philadelphia judges.

  • March 17, 2019

    Kirkland Helps Minors Shake Adult Time Over Jail Scuffles

    Jaylan Banks and Sylvester Williams were nearing the end of their juvenile sentences at a youth facility in Harrisburg, Illinois in the spring of 2017 when they found themselves flung directly into multiyear sentences in the adult corrections system following altercations with guards.

  • March 17, 2019

    Public Defenders Blast Shuffled Immigration Hearings In NY

    A recent move by immigration authorities to bump up a slew of hearing dates in New York without notice has public defenders crying foul and painting the move as a not-so-subtle attack on the ability of immigrants facing deportation to have proper counsel.

  • March 10, 2019

    Namati Founder Vivek Maru On 'Barefoot Lawyers'

    In an effort to boost legal access and the rule of law across the globe, attorney Vivek Maru launched Namati in 2011. Here, Maru talks about growing a network of grassroots legal advocates and democratizing the law.

  • March 10, 2019

    How The High Cost Of Calls In Jail Restricts Legal Access

    Phone calls from local jails often cost far more than phone calls from state prisons due to commission-based contracts between service providers and jail operators. As a result, contact between defendants and their attorneys before trial can cost up to $25 per 15 minutes.

  • March 10, 2019

    In Justice Crisis, Access Commissions' Spread Sparks Change

    States have seen an explosion of access to justice commissions in recent years, and they’ve become a driving force not only in getting legal aid to those who need it, but also helping self-represented litigants better navigate the courts.

  • March 10, 2019

    San Francisco Faces Uncertain Bail System After Reform Win

    Oakland resident Riana Buffin was never formally charged with a crime, but that didn’t stop her from spending 46 hours in jail because she couldn't pay bail while suspected of grand theft, or from losing her job when she didn't show up to work.

  • March 7, 2019

    Law Barring Asylum Reviews Is Unconstitutional: 9th Circ.

    Part of the Immigration and Nationality Act violates the U.S. Constitution by limiting federal district courts from reviewing whether asylum seekers apprehended near the border established a fear of persecution, the Ninth Circuit found Thursday. 

  • March 3, 2019

    Bail Reformers Gain Ground With 10th Circ. Win

    Bail reform advocates got a boost last week when the Tenth Circuit backed the constitutionality of recently enacted New Mexico rules allowing courts to eschew cash bail for many defendants, experts said.

  • March 3, 2019

    Pressure Grows In NY To Take Sex Work Out Of The Shadows

    Advocates and lawmakers in New York are gearing up to make the Empire State the first in the country to decriminalize sex work, hoping for a package of changes that they say should include wiping away past criminal convictions on prostitution and related charges.

  • March 3, 2019

    With Courthouse Arrests, Is Justice Too Risky For Immigrants?

    Two recent reports from New York and Pennsylvania document the pervasive fear of courthouse immigration arrests among immigrant communities. Immigration officers defend the practice as a result of so-called sanctuary city policies, but lawyers say it scares off crime victims and witnesses.

  • March 3, 2019

    Who Are You Without An ID?

    Having a legal ID can easily be taken for granted, but more than 1 billion people across the globe don’t have a way to show who they are, which can affect everything from starting a business, to enrolling in school, to appearing in court or filing a police report.

  • March 3, 2019

    Value Of Exonerees’ Lost Time Depends On Where They Live

    A city granted a $21 million settlement to an exonerated man who spent 37 years behind bars, less than a year after the state paid just $1.95 million. The discrepancy in sums raises the question: how much is a wrongfully convicted person’s lost time really worth?

  • March 3, 2019

    Attys Lose Access Fight Over NYC Jail Conditions For Now

    A New York federal judge on Friday declined to renew an order mandating strict access to attorneys for inmates in a Brooklyn federal jail that had no heat for a frigid week in January, finding the lawyers who sued over the ordeal lack standing to bring Sixth Amendment claims.

  • February 24, 2019

    Freedom At A Cost: Fighting Court Fees On The Acquitted

    In 2017, after two trials and years of legal fees that wiped out his life savings, Curtis Lovelace was acquitted of the murder of his wife, but the court ruled he still had to pay $35,000 as a "bond forfeiture fee," something Lovelace is now arguing is unconstitutional.

  • February 24, 2019

    For Prisoners, Privacy Of Attorney Emails An Open Question

    Communications with your attorney are usually private, but there’s a glaring exception for people in prison. Federal prosecutors can access all emails sent over a system set up by the Bureau of Prisons, and it’s unclear how often they might be looking at emails between attorneys and their clients.

  • February 24, 2019

    Texas Rebuffed On Mental Fitness Review For Death Row

    A Texas court relied on outdated and stereotypical rationales to determine that a death row inmate who struggled as a teenager to grasp basic math was not intellectually disabled and should be executed, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, reinforcing that established clinical guidelines must underpin such decisions.

  • February 24, 2019

    Justices' Answer On Excessive Fines Invites New Questions

    After the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that state and local governments must abide by the constitutional ban on excessive fines, advocates say the fight against civil asset forfeiture is far from over.

Expert Analysis

  • Don't Overlook First Step Act Pilot Programs

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    Much attention has been paid to certain First Step Act reforms and their impacts on those serving prison sentences, but two less-heralded programs created by the law could drastically reduce sentences for large swaths of the current prison population, say Addy Schmitt and Ian Herbert of Miller & Chevalier Chtd.

  • Good Intentions Don't Justify Denying Juveniles' Right To Trial

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    Sixth Amendment jury trial provisions do not apply to juveniles because their proceedings are considered rehabilitative. But by any definition, the proceedings and “sentences” juveniles face are certainly “criminal.” State courts should interpret their own state constitutions to give juveniles this fundamental right, says University of Illinois College of Law professor Suja Thomas.

  • Sentencing Data Raise Major Questions About Guidelines

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    A 30-city report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission sheds new light on the prevalence of unwarranted sentencing disparities in federal cases, and should get more attention from prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and the public, says Stephen Lee of Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP.

  • A Critical Crossroad In The Campaign To Close Rikers

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    In an initiative that could set new standards for jail reform across the country, New York City is seeking to shut down Rikers Island. Although remarkable progress has been made, the year ahead will be decisive, say Judge Jonathan Lippman and Tyler Nims of the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform.

  • The Cambodia Case And Complexity Of Genocide Prosecution

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    A recent ruling in Cambodia marked the end of an onerous, nine-year-long proceeding in which over $300 million was spent and only three former Khmer Rouge officials were sentenced. For some, the convictions brought closure, but others believed the trial to be a colossal failure of justice, say Viren Mascarenhas and Morgan Bridgman of King & Spalding LLP.

  • Rumors Of Civil Forfeiture’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

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    While the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Timbs v. Indiana ought to be celebrated by the civil forfeiture bar, it should not be viewed as a sea change — for three reasons, says Alexander Klein of Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco LLP.

  • Ivory Coast War Crime Acquittals Fuel Skepticism Of ICC

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    The acquittals last month of the former president of the Ivory Coast and a political ally add to the recent string of failures by the International Criminal Court to obtain convictions for accused war criminals. The decision is drawing attention for a number of reasons, say Viren Mascarenhas and Morgan Bridgman of King & Spalding LLP.

  • Why Review Title VII Exhaustion Requirements At High Court?

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    In Fort Bend County v. Davis, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether exhaustion of administrative remedies under Title VII is required before a court can exercise jurisdiction over a case. But many are wondering what practical difference, if any, the eventual outcome will make, says Carolyn Wheeler of Katz Marshall & Banks LLP.

  • Civil Legal Aid’s Essential Role In Wildfire Response

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    Wildfires and other natural disasters present a wide range of often unanticipated civil legal challenges. Disaster survivors should be able to turn to "second responders" from the legal community to preserve their rights, say John Levi of the Legal Services Corp. and Robert Malionek of Latham & Watkins LLP.

  • Barr Could Steer First Step Act Off Course

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    The recently enacted First Step Act makes significant strides toward reforming the federal criminal justice system. However, if attorney general nominee William Barr is confirmed, his oversight could render the law almost ineffectual, says Lara Yeretsian, a Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney.