Access to Justice

  • October 24, 2023

    NJ State Police Sued For Failing To Clear Expunged Records

    The New Jersey State Police has failed to timely remove expunged criminal records from the background checks of tens of thousands of individuals, preventing them from getting jobs, housing and other opportunities, the state's Office of the Public Defender claims in a proposed class action.

  • October 13, 2023

    How Church's Ch. 11 Bid Could Shut Out Abuse Victims

    Anticipating a flood of lawsuits from a new state law ending the statute of limitations on child sex abuse claims, the Archdiocese of Baltimore took refuge in bankruptcy court last month to shield itself from liability as it tries to ensure its solvency. It’s a strategy that dioceses around the country are using more frequently in what some attorneys say is a bid to escape the tort system.

  • October 13, 2023

    Snapshot: Police Union Casts NYPD Protest Deal Into Doubt

    Approval of a settlement that could significantly change the way the New York Police Department handles protests has been thrown into doubt after the city's largest police union filed objections in Manhattan federal court last week.

  • October 13, 2023

    NY's Top Court To Decide Who Can Discipline Police

    The New York State Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments this month in a case that could have statewide implications on who is entrusted to review complaints against police and impose discipline.

  • October 13, 2023

    Atty's Secret Courtroom Meeting May Upend NY Murder Case

    A secret conversation held in an empty courtroom in New York’s Hudson Valley has left a judge, his clerk and a local attorney facing ethics questions that could result in a manslaughter conviction being tossed.

  • October 13, 2023

    Attys Spotlighted In HBO Documentary On Charlottesville Suit

    A team of boutique and BigLaw attorneys and their clients are the stars of a documentary legal thriller that debuted on HBO this week capturing the battle they fought against the white nationalist forces that helped fuel 2017's deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

  • October 13, 2023

    Resolute Lawyers Help South Sudanese Dissident Win Asylum

    Two Paul Hastings attorneys recently helped a South Sudanese peace activist and his family navigate a three-year bureaucratic odyssey to secure asylum in the U.S. following their escape from government hit squads in their home country.

  • October 13, 2023

    NY Court OKs Disclosure Of Past Police Misconduct Records

    A New York state appeals court has ruled that a 2020 state action authorizing the public disclosure of police misconduct records can be applied retroactively, opening the door to more scrutiny of police actions that have previously been hidden from the public, court records show.

  • October 12, 2023

    Prosecutor Disbarred In Drug Lab Scandal Seeks Reprieve

    A former Massachusetts assistant attorney general who was ordered disbarred by the state's highest court in August for failing to disclose evidence of misconduct by a state drug lab chemist is asking that her disbarment be imposed retroactively to 2018.

  • October 05, 2023

    Pot Legalization Doesn't Always Mean Justice, Report Says

    A report from the Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit advocating for criminal justice reform regarding cannabis, shows that equal justice doesn't always accompany the freedom to use the drug in states that have legalized it recreationally.

  • October 10, 2023

    5th Circ. Judge Airs Dissent In 'Alternative' Majority Opinion

    A dissenting federal appellate judge took the seemingly unusual step of issuing a mock majority opinion this week to illustrate his disagreement with the actual majority ruling to keep a pause on a convicted murderer's execution in Texas, calling his decision "the Fifth Circuit panel opinion that should have been issued."

  • October 04, 2023

    Wash. Tribal Board To Study State's Boarding School History

    Five members of Washington's tribal nations will lead an advisory committee aimed at studying how the state can address harms caused to Native Americans by the government's role in Native boarding schools, the state's attorney general says.

  • October 02, 2023

    Calif. Cities Sue To Block Pre-Arraignment Zero Bail System

    Several cities sued the Los Angeles County Superior Court in California state court over its pre-arraignment zero bail system for arrestees detained for low-level offenses, alleging it doesn't consider public safety and emboldens criminals to seamlessly continue criminal activity "with impunity and with little actual imminent consequences."

  • September 28, 2023

    Federal Court Finds 'Psychotic' Texas Man Unfit For Execution

    A federal judge has found that a Texas man with a long history of severe mental illness is unfit for execution under the Constitution, the latest episode in a long legal saga that included a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the man's favor in 2007, his attorney told Law360 on Thursday.

  • September 28, 2023

    2 Philly Officers Sued Over Killing After 1 Beat Murder Rap

    Fresh off of evading murder charges, Philadelphia Police Officer Mark Dial has been sued along with his partner for wrongful death by the family of Eddie Irizarry, who was shot and killed by Dial while sitting in his car in August.

  • September 27, 2023

    Civil Rights Attys Tell 4th Circ. Prisoners Owed Min. Wage

    A group of civil rights, anti-poverty and employment law groups urged the Fourth Circuit to revive claims that Baltimore County is obliged to pay minimum wages for work that county jail inmates perform at a recycling plant, arguing the work is profit-driven rather than rehabilitative.

  • September 27, 2023

    Bipartisan Bill Seeks To Address Nationwide Rape Kit Backlog

    A pair of congressional representatives from rival parties on Wednesday announced the introduction of a bill that would increase accountability and transparency on rape kits that have been piling up in police storage across the country.

  • September 25, 2023

    Ill. Woman Wins $19.3M From Jury In Prison Sex Abuse Case

    An Illinois federal jury has awarded more than $19 million to a woman who alleged her counselor raped and sexually assaulted her for seven months while she was serving a prison sentence at Logan Correctional Center.

  • September 22, 2023

    Access To Justice Cases To Watch This Term

    In the term beginning next week, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to return to some of the most hot-button issues concerning civil rights: guns, free speech, race discrimination, and potentially more.

  • September 22, 2023

    Legal Aid Funder Awards $5M For Pro Bono Services

    The Legal Services Corporation announced this week it will award more than $5 million in grants to 17 legal organizations around the U.S. in an effort to expand and improve pro bono legal services across the country.

  • September 22, 2023

    Suits Shed Light On Alleged Baton Rouge 'Torture Warehouse'

    An unmarked warehouse down the road from a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police station has become the subject of lawsuits alleging that some police detainees have been subjected to clandestine and sometimes violent interrogations. The allegations are serious enough that the FBI is investigating, authorities say.

  • September 22, 2023

    How Robins Kaplan Helped Protect Minn. Wilderness Area

    Attorneys with Robins Kaplan LLP recently helped an environmental group defeat a suit brought by a mining company seeking to extract copper and nickel upstream from a massive, federally protected Minnesota wilderness area including some of the most pristine waterways in North America.

  • September 22, 2023

    Georgia DAs' Fear Of 'Witch Hunt' Unfounded, Judge Told

    Counsel for members of Georgia's new commission tasked with investigating complaints against prosecutors urged an Atlanta judge Friday to reject an attempt by four district attorneys to halt the commission's work before it starts accepting complaints Oct. 1.

  • September 20, 2023

    NY State Bar Unveils Post-Affirmative Action DEI Strategies

    Members of a New York State Bar Association task force on Wednesday urged leaders in higher education, law and the corporate world to implement meaningful and legally permissible race-neutral criteria to advance diversity and inclusion goals in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision ending affirmative action in university admissions.

  • September 15, 2023

    DC Lawyers Group For Civil Rights Names Three Directors

    The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs has named a new development director, a new legal director and its first communications director, the committee announced Thursday.

Expert Analysis

  • Jackson Confirmation Hearings Should Examine Due Process

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    In the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings, senators should assess Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s approach to holding government actors accountable in the areas of qualified immunity and forfeiture, as revisiting shaky precedents on these topics could help guarantee due process for all, says Marc Levin at the Council on Criminal Justice.

  • ABA's New Anti-Bias Curriculum Rule Is Insufficient

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    The American Bar Association's recently approved requirement that law schools educate students on bias, cross-cultural competency and racism, while a step in the right direction, fails to publicly acknowledge and commit to eradicating the systemic racial inequality in our legal system, says criminal defense attorney Donna Mulvihill Fehrmann.

  • Justice Reforms Call For Quick Action To Fill US Atty Spots

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    U.S. attorneys play an important role in transforming the criminal legal system for several reasons, and they can restore integrity and independence to the U.S. Department of Justice, so President Joe Biden and Congress must move quickly to fill the remaining two-thirds of the top prosecutor seats, says Derick Dailey at Davis + Gilbert.

  • Judge's Veto Of Arbery Hate Crime Plea Deal Is Not Unusual

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    Contrary to media commentary, a Georgia federal judge’s rejection of the plea agreement between prosecutors and a defendant charged with hate crimes in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery is not actually surprising — it simply indicates the judge’s desire to retain discretion and allow all parties to be heard before making a just sentencing decision, says Dominick Gerace at Taft Stettinius.

  • Indefinite Migrant Detention Without Review Is Kafkaesque

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    In two recently argued U.S. Supreme Court cases, the government's position that detained migrants can't demand an immigration judge review their confinement, but can instead file a habeas petition in federal court, reads like a work of Kafka, offering only the illusion of access to a hearing before a neutral fact-finder, says César García Hernández at Ohio State University.

  • 2 Worthy Goals For The DOJ's New Domestic Terrorism Unit

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    The U.S. Department of Justice’s newly announced Domestic Terrorism Unit should include both counterterrorism and civil rights prosecutors, and would benefit from a criminal statute that is modeled after international terrorism laws and that strikes a balance between protecting the public and constitutional rights, say Emil Bove and Brittany Manna at Chiesa Shahinian.

  • Justice Reforms Are Not To Blame For Waukesha Tragedy

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    Last month's parade attack in Wisconsin has brought into focus the fact that the accused was out of jail on a low bond — but this tragedy must not be exploited to reverse years of long-overdue criminal justice reform, when emerging data shows that new prosecutorial models are associated with better outcomes than an overly punitive approach, says Alissa Marque Heydari at John Jay College.

  • Addressing Prison Risk After CARES Act Home Confinement

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    Home confinement eligibility, which was expanded last year due to high rates of COVID-19 in penal institutions, may soon be tightened, so house-detained individuals at risk of returning to prison should understand their various avenues for relief, as well as the procedural obstacles they may face in mounting legal challenges, say Charles Burnham and Jonathan Knowles at Burnham & Gorokhov.

  • We Must Help Fix Justice Gap In Georgia's Legal Deserts

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    In much of rural Georgia, there are too few lawyers to meet residents’ urgent legal needs, forcing self-represented litigants to navigate an impenetrable system, but courts, law firms and nonlawyers can help address these legal deserts in various ways, says Lauren Sudeall at Georgia State University College of Law.

  • Reimagining Courthouse Design For Better Access To Justice

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    While courthouse design has historically been driven by tradition, it is time to shift from the classical courthouse to spaces that are accessible to those with mobility challenges, serve the needs of vulnerable litigants, and accommodate pandemic-era shifts toward remote and hybrid proceedings, says architect Clair Colburn at Finegold Alexander.

  • Why Law Schools Should Require Justice Reform Curriculum

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    Criminal defense attorney Donna Mulvihill Fehrmann argues that law schools have an obligation to address widespread racial and economic disparities in the U.S. legal system by mandating first-year coursework on criminal justice reform that educates on prosecutorial misconduct, wrongful convictions, defense 101 and more.

  • Attorneys, Fight For Enviro Justice With Both Law And Protest

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    In this moment of climate crisis, lawyers can and should use law and protest in tandem — from urging law firms to stop serving the fossil fuel industry to helping draft laws that accelerate the transition to a sustainable way of life, says Vivek Maru at Namati.

  • One-Subject Rule Strategy Can Defeat Dangerous State Laws

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    Attorneys at Ulmer & Berne explain how single-subject rule violation claims can thwart certain unconstitutional or controversial state statutes and protect civil rights in the face of state governments under one-party rule.

  • States Must Rethink Wrongful Conviction Compensation Laws

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    States, counties and municipalities have now paid over $3 billion in judgments or settlements to exonerees, while policymakers lack comprehensive data on official misconduct and financial costs — but rethinking state compensation statutes can curb the policies and practices that cause wrongful convictions in the first place, says Jeffrey Gutman at George Washington University.

  • Police And Voting Reform Need Federal Remedy, Not Takeover

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    The debate over what level of government should hold sway is central to today's impasse over voting rights and police reform legislation, but anchoring the conversation in the U.S. Constitution can create the common ground of tailored federal remediation that also preserves traditional state and local functions, says Marc Levin at the Council on Criminal Justice.

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