Access to Justice

  • April 27, 2023

    Family Gets $7M Settlement Over Texarkana Jail Death

    The family of a 46-year-old woman who died in the custody of a private East Texas jail has reached a $7 million settlement in what attorneys say is the largest known jail death settlement in the state's history and one of the largest reached nationwide over an in-custody death.

  • April 26, 2023

    Okla. Parole Board Denies Clemency For Death Row Inmate

    The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Wednesday declined to recommend clemency for Richard Glossip, a death row inmate whose murder conviction has been criticized by legal experts — and the state's top prosecutor — as tainted by errors and constitutional violations.

  • April 24, 2023

    3 Justices Protest Court's Snub Of Death Row Inmate's Appeal

    Three U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday called "disheartening" their colleagues' decision not to hear the case of a Tennessee death row inmate whose murder sentence has been clouded by claims of ineffective counsel.

  • April 24, 2023

    NAACP Sues Over Miss. GOP's Foray Into Capital City Courts

    The NAACP and other organizations are pushing back against the Republican-controlled Mississippi state government over its recent moves that give white state officials greater power over Jackson, the state's majority-Black capital city.

  • April 21, 2023

    $2M False Arrest Win May Spawn New Legal Fights For NYPD

    When Jawaun Fraser was charged for robbery in October 2014, the New York Police Department and Manhattan prosecutors never told him that his arresting officers had been targeted in dozens of civil lawsuits over alleged evidence fabrication, abuse of power and other misconduct. Now, after a $2 million civil rights verdict last month over the disclosure failures, Fraser's case could lead to new legal challenges for criminal cases in the city.

  • April 21, 2023

    Major Payout Likely In Tyre Nichols Beating Case, Experts Say

    It's hard to sue the police and win, but the fatal beating of motorist Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police in January was so egregious and highly publicized that experts say the city is likely facing a big settlement.

  • April 21, 2023

    Justices To Hear Whether Post-Seizure Hearings Are Required

    Every year, law enforcement agencies across the U.S. confiscate billions of dollars worth of assets, including cash, cars, weapons and real estate, from people they arrest and prosecute. The process, called civil forfeiture, is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which this week agreed to hear a case centering on when people are entitled to court hearings where they can ask for their property back.

  • April 21, 2023

    After High Court Win, O'Melveny Clears La. Man Of Murder

    Although his lawyers notched a landmark victory at the U.S. Supreme Court three years ago when the justices declared nonunanimous criminal verdicts unconstitutional, Evangelisto Ramos remained stuck behind bars on a murder conviction until a team from O'Melveny & Myers LLP finally secured his acquittal at a retrial last month.

  • April 21, 2023

    Growing US Senior Population Faces Unmet Legal Needs

    As the U.S. population ages, more Americans need the services of attorneys who specialize in helping seniors and people with disabilities. But the number of lawyers trained in this subspecialty is small, and the number of elder law attorneys who offer services to low-income people is even smaller.

  • April 20, 2023

    NY High Court Skeptical On Murder Trial Courtroom Closure

    New York's highest court suggested on Thursday that a state trial judge may have violated a murder suspect's constitutional right to a public trial when she closed her courtroom to the public halfway through an eight-day criminal proceeding because of what she called "very intimidating" behavior on the part of spectators.

  • April 20, 2023

    How One State Is Using Automated Forms To Boost Justice

    The New York state court system has created several document automation programs that make it easier for self-represented litigants to create legally acceptable court documents, demonstrating how simple technology can be used to close the access-to-justice gap.

  • April 19, 2023

    Justices Back Longer Clock For Post-Conviction DNA Tests

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that state prisoners requesting post-conviction DNA testing have until after all state appeals finish before a clock for federal relief starts ticking, ending a stricter time limit the NAACP called "illogical" and race-biased.

  • April 17, 2023

    Justices Struggle To Navigate Odyssey Of Obstruction Case

    Several Supreme Court justices struggled Monday to define when obstruction of justice becomes a deportable offense, with Justice Clarence Thomas invoking mythical sea monsters to suggest the court must choose the lesser of two evils.

  • April 14, 2023

    Calif. Court OKs Challenge To 'Spit And Acquit' DNA Collection

     A California state appellate court has found that a lower court wrongly dismissed parts of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a controversial DNA collection program operated by the Orange County District Attorney's Office, ordering the case to proceed to discovery.

  • April 11, 2023

    NYC Can't Dodge Suit Over NYPD Arrests Of Floyd Protesters

    A New York state trial judge has ruled that the city of New York cannot escape a lawsuit brought by five people alleging they were unlawfully arrested, detained and injured by police during the 2020 demonstrations following George Floyd's killing.

  • April 07, 2023

    6th Circ. Says Exonerated Ohio Man Can't Sue Prosecutor

    A Cleveland man who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit cannot pursue charges against a Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor who redacted key evidence from the man's investigative file in response to a public records request in 2016, the Sixth Circuit has ruled.

  • April 11, 2023

    Afghans' American Dream Clashes With Housing Crisis: Part 2

    When Shir Agha Safi landed in Iowa in early October 2021 after being evacuated from Afghanistan, he was carrying little more than the clothes on his back as he was driven by a Catholic Charities caseworker to an Extended Stay America in Urbandale, Iowa, right off Interstate 80. Yet, he and the other refugees staying at the motel were initially given little food or supplies.

  • April 07, 2023

    DC Courts' First Pro Bono Leader Looks To Expand Services

    The District of Columbia courts system announced the hiring of its first-ever pro bono program manager two weeks ago, welcoming an attorney with more than two decades of pro bono experience who will help shape the role and expand the availability of pro bono and affordable legal services to D.C. litigants.

  • April 07, 2023

    Family's 10-Year Eviction Saga Highlights NYC Housing Crisis

    When the Solis family was suddenly evicted from an illegal Brooklyn sublease nearly a decade ago, they relied on the kindness — and ultimately the legal acumen — of a neighbor, who recently helped them secure a $275,000 settlement from their former landlord. Their case demonstrates the importance of legal representation in housing matters, and the continuing severity of the city’s housing crisis.

  • April 07, 2023

    NY Top Court To Weigh Courtroom Closure's Constitutionality

    New York’s highest court is set to hear arguments later this month over whether a Manhattan judge violated a murder suspect’s constitutional right to a public trial by ordering her courtroom to be sealed in response to what she called “intimidating” behavior by audience members observing the case.

  • April 06, 2023

    DOJ Says No Right To Counsel In Immigrant Bond Hearings

    The Biden administration told a D.C. federal judge that no constitutional right to counsel exists for detained immigrants in bond proceedings as it tries to undercut what remains of a lawsuit alleging several immigration detention centers are hindering attorney access.

  • April 05, 2023

    'Extortionate' LA Jail Service Fees Enrich PE Firms, Suit Says

    A former inmate and local resident hit Los Angeles County with a proposed class action in California state court, alleging its exclusive commissions-based contracts with private equity-owned vendors amount to illegal taxes that charge inmates and their families "extortionate" fees for jail services in violation of the Golden State's constitution.

  • April 05, 2023

    DC Circ. Orders Due Process Analysis For Gitmo Detainee

    The full D.C. Circuit has reversed part of a 2020 panel ruling that a Guantánamo Bay military prisoner, who is being detained indefinitely for supporting al-Qaida, lacks any constitutional due process rights, and ordered a lower court to revisit his substantive due process challenge to his ongoing imprisonment.

  • April 04, 2023

    Mich. Justice Suggests Pro Bono Fee Awards Go To State Bar

    A Michigan Supreme Court justice on Tuesday floated a rule that would send fee awards in pro bono cases to the state bar association instead of the lawyers involved, as Honigman LLP asked the court to find that its fee award should not have been decimated because it represented a pair of journalists for free.

  • April 03, 2023

    Ark. Jail's 'Postcard-Only' Policy Axed As Unconstitutional

    An Arkansas federal judge struck down as unconstitutional a county jail's policy allowing inmates to only receive information from the outside world by means of 3-by-5-inch postcards while banning books and magazines.

Expert Analysis

  • Judges Cannot Rehabilitate Offenders With Extra Prison Time

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    Although they may mean well, federal judges should stop attempting to help criminal defendants get into drug rehabilitation programs by unlawfully sending them to prison for longer than their recommended sentences, says GianCarlo Canaparo at The Heritage Foundation.

  • Time To Rethink License Suspensions Without Due Notice

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    In North Carolina, one in seven adults has a suspended driver’s license, but our research suggests that many of them never received actual notice of their license suspension, or of the court proceeding that led to it, making this a fundamentally unfair sanction, say Brandon Garrett, Karima Modjadidi and William Crozier at Duke University.

  • Changing The Way We Dialogue About Justice Reform

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    Dawn Freeman of The Securus Foundation discusses why humanizing the language used to discuss justice-involved individuals is a key aspect of reform and how the foundation’s upcoming campaign will implement this change in mainstream publications and on social media.

  • High Court Should Restore Sentencing Due Process

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    If the U.S. Supreme Court grants certiorari in Asaro v. U.S. and rules that sentencing judges cannot consider uncharged, dismissed and acquitted conduct, a peculiar and troubling oddity of criminal and constitutional law will finally be rectified, say criminal defense attorney Alan Ellis and sentencing consultant Mark Allenbaugh.

  • Book Review: Who's To Blame For The Broken Legal System?

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    The provocative new book by Alec Karakatsanis, "Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System," shines a searing light on the anachronism that is the American criminal justice system, says Sixth Circuit Judge Bernice Donald.

  • High Court Should Affirm 3-Strikes Rule For Prisoner Pleading

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    The U.S. Supreme Court in Lomax v. Ortiz-Marquez should hold that any case dismissed for failure to state a claim should count as a strike for purposes of Section 1915(g), which allows incarcerated people to file three complaints free of charge, says GianCarlo Canaparo at The Heritage Foundation.

  • Acquitted Conduct Should Not Be Considered At Sentencing

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    Congress should advance the Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act, which seeks to explicitly preclude federal judges from a practice that effectively eliminates the democratic role of the jury in the criminal justice system, says Robert Ehrlich, former governor of Maryland.

  • Thank A Female Veteran With Access To Legal Services

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    Women returning from military deployment often require more legal assistance than their male counterparts, and Congress can alleviate some of these burdens by passing the Improving Legal Services for Female Veterans Act, says Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa.

  • California Should Embrace Nonlawyer Providers

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    Despite criticisms from the legal profession, a California proposal to allow some legal service delivery by nonlawyers is a principled response to the reality that millions of Americans currently must face their legal problems without any help, says Chris Albin-Lackey, legal and policy director at the National Center for Access to Justice.

  • Calif. Law Offers New Hope For Child Sexual Abuse Victims

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    The recent passage of A.B. 218 in California — extending the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases — will pose challenges for the justice system, but some of the burdens posed by abuse will finally be shifted from survivors to accused abusers and the organizations that enabled them, says retired Los Angeles Superior Court judge Scott Gordon.

  • Core Rights Of Accused At Issue In High Court's New Term

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    The U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming decisions in several criminal cases this term will determine whether certain rights of the accused — some that many people would be surprised to learn are unsettled — are assured by the Constitution, say Harry Sandick and Jacob Newman at Patterson Belknap.

  • Bill Limiting Forced Arbitration Is Critical To Real Justice

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    Real justice means having access to fair and independent courts, but that will only be a reality when Congress bans predispute, forced arbitration under federal law with the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, which passed the House on Friday, says Patrice Simms at Earthjustice.

  • 3 Ways DOJ Is Working To Improve Justice In Indian Country

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    As both a federal prosecutor and a member of the Choctaw Nation, I am proud of the U.S. Department of Justice's current efforts to address crime in Indian Country while respecting tribal sovereignty, says Trent Shores, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

  • Rules Of Evidence Hinder #MeToo Claims In Court

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    If women and men who bring sexual harassment allegations in court will ever have a level playing field with their alleged harassers, the rules regarding what evidence is relevant in a sexual harassment trial must be changed, says John Winer at Winer Burritt.

  • Sealing Marijuana Convictions Is A Win For Justice System

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    As a result of a novel class action, hundreds of New Yorkers' old convictions for marijuana-related crimes are being sealed, an important step toward a more equal justice system where the needless collateral consequences of marijuana criminalization are eliminated, says Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.

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