Access to Justice

  • 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.

  • April 03, 2023

    Justices' Dissent Rips La. Brady Ruling In Death Penalty Case

    U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said Monday they would have voted to review the case of Louisiana death row inmate David Brown, who was convicted of killing a prison guard in a case where prosecutors failed to disclose a potentially exculpatory confession from another convict until after sentencing.

  • March 29, 2023

    Justices Eye Fix To Co-Defendant Confession Rule

    Some U.S. Supreme Court justices suggested Wednesday that courts should consider a trial's broader context when deciding whether jurors can see a co-defendant's redacted confession, suggesting a bright-line approach leads to nonsensical results.

  • March 28, 2023

    Justices Doubtful On Tying Judges' Hands In Gun Sentencing

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared skeptical about the government's view that criminal defendants convicted under a particular provision of the federal firearms statute must receive consecutive sentences when also convicted of other crimes.

  • March 28, 2023

    Law360's 2023 Access To Justice Editorial Advisory Board

    Law360 is pleased to announce the formation of its 2023 Access to Justice Editorial Advisory Board.

  • March 24, 2023

    Pandemic Exposed Excessive NY Child Removals, Attys Argue

    A feared spike in child mistreatment amid New York City's pandemic lockdown, as the city’s child welfare system nearly shut down, never happened. In a study published last week, advocates say that proves the system regularly removes far more children from their families than necessary.

  • March 24, 2023

    Inside The Settlement Over ICE's 'Steak Out' Raid In Tenn.

    Nearly five years after federal agents stormed a Tennessee meatpacking plant and arrested over 100 Latino workers, U.S. government agencies agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million in damages to settle a class action accusing the officers of targeting the employees on the basis of their ethnicity and using excessive force. Lead attorneys for the plaintiffs broke down the case for Law360.

  • March 24, 2023

    Black Miss. Judges Speak Out Against GOP Court Overhaul

    Mississippi’s Republican-controlled and majority white state Legislature is pushing to install new, unelected judges in Jackson, the majority Black state capital — but Jackson’s elected Black judges are pushing back.

Expert Analysis

  • Sentencing Insights From A Chat With Judge Nancy Gertner

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    While many judges say there isn’t much criminal defense attorneys can do at sentencing hearings, retired U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner — an outspoken critic of the federal sentencing guidelines — disagrees, says criminal defense attorney Alan Ellis.

  • Rigged Forfeiture Law Seizes Property In 4 Steps

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    Nationwide, law enforcement agencies rely on a four-pronged attack to generate billions of dollars in civil forfeiture revenue to use for police perks, depriving defendants of property without due process of law, says Daryl James of the Institute for Justice.

  • To Honor The Promise Of Liberty, Reform Pretrial Detention

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    As criminal justice reform advocates focus on the critical need to reduce unjust pretrial detention, jurisdictions must commit to a range of policy changes that include, but also go beyond, risk assessments, says former Wisconsin Judge Jeffrey Kremers.

  • USCIS Work Proposals Add To LGBTQ Asylum Seekers' Risks

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    Pending U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proposals to prolong employment ineligibility and charge for employment authorization documents would be particularly detrimental to already-vulnerable LGBTQ asylum seekers, says Richard Kelley at the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project.

  • Understanding What Restorative Justice Is And Isn't

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    A hearing in the Jeffrey Epstein case featuring victim impact statements and a White House meeting between a hit-and-run driver and the victim's parents have been described as restorative justice, but the reality is more complex, says Natalie Gordon of DOAR.

  • 5 Most-Read Access To Justice Law360 Guests Of 2019

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    On topics ranging from public trial rights to electronic monitoring technology to the rules of evidence in the context of sexual harassment trials, 2019 brought a wide array of compelling commentary from the access to justice community.

  • Inside The Key Federal Sentencing Developments Of 2019

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    Raquel Wilson, director of the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s Office of Education and Sentencing Practice, discusses this year's developments in federal sentencing, including new legislation in the Senate and U.S. Supreme Court cases invalidating certain statutes.

  • ODonnell Consent Decree Will Harm Criminal Justice In Texas

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    In Odonnell v. Harris County, a Texas federal court ordered that misdemeanor offenders could be released without bail, marking a fundamental deterioration of the Texas criminal justice system, says attorney Randy Adler.

  • 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.

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