Access to Justice

  • August 17, 2023

    Washington Sued Over New Law On Shelter For Trans Youth

    Two anti-trans groups are suing the state of Washington in Seattle federal court over a new law that policymakers say is intended to ensure shelter for teens seeking gender-affirming care and reproductive health services, alleging that the measure tramples parents' "constitutional rights to direct the upbringing of their children."

  • August 15, 2023

    2nd Amendment Allows Disarming Abusers, Feds Tell Justices

    The Fifth Circuit's decision to strike down a law forbidding domestic abusers from owning guns was "profoundly mistaken" and "endangers victims of domestic violence, their families, police officers, and the public," the federal government has told the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • August 11, 2023

    Family of NY Man Who Died After Police Beating Wins $35M

    A federal jury on Thursday awarded a $35 million verdict to the family of Long Island resident Kenny Lazo, who died in Suffolk County police custody in 2008.

  • August 10, 2023

    Feds, Rikers Detainees Have Green Light To Seek Receiver

    A New York federal judge on Thursday cleared the way for detainees at New York City's Rikers Island and Manhattan federal prosecutors to push for a receiver to take control of the notorious jail complex away from city officials, in the wake of increasingly dire reports of violence and mismanagement.

  • August 09, 2023

    11th Circ. Revives Claim Over Inmate's Mail To Attorneys

    The Eleventh Circuit on Tuesday kept alive a Florida inmate's constitutional claim against two county jail employees, saying the prisoner's argument that his legal mail shouldn't be scanned into a computer because others might read it shouldn't have been dismissed by the district court.

  • August 07, 2023

    Ark. Suit Over Providing Atty For Bail Hearings Is Kept Alive

    An Arkansas federal judge has kept alive a suit challenging a state court's failure to appoint counsel to indigent clients prior to their bail hearings, saying the defendants can't escape the claims based on sovereign immunity and declaring that appointed counsel provides "critical assistance" during a bail hearing.

  • August 04, 2023

    Court-Appointed Atty Accused Of 'Abysmal Representation'

    A 70-year-old Houston man who says he sat in jail without substantial contact from his court-appointed attorney for more than three years before his case was ultimately dismissed — causing him to miss the death and funeral of his wife of 40 years — has sued his former lawyer for legal malpractice.

  • August 01, 2023

    2nd Circ. Revives Honduran Woman's Rape Case Against ICE

    The Second Circuit said Tuesday that a lower court should not have rejected the claims of a Honduran immigrant as time-barred and revived her suit alleging a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer regularly raped her and threatened her with deportation for seven years.

  • July 31, 2023

    ICE Sued For Records Of Chemicals Sprayed At Wash. Facility

    An immigrant rights group filed a lawsuit Friday asking a Washington federal judge to compel U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hand over internal reports of guards at a Tacoma detention facility spewing chemical agents at people being held there earlier this year.

  • July 31, 2023

    11th Circ. Orders Reopening Of Ala. Convict's Plea Offers

    An Eleventh Circuit panel on Friday sided with an Alabama man serving a life sentence for murder, finding there was reason to believe he had never been informed of a plea offer that could have resulted in a 30-year prison sentence instead.

  • July 27, 2023

    DOJ Hailed For Goal Of Helping Pretrial Inmates Access Attys

    The public defender community is praising new recommendations from the U.S. Department of Justice aimed at finding ways to improve the ability of criminal suspects in federal custody to communicate with attorneys and access materials related to their cases.

  • July 26, 2023

    Mich. Justices Say Pro Bono Status Can't Affect Fee Awards

    Pro bono representation should not be a factor in determining a reasonable attorney fee award, the Michigan Supreme Court said Wednesday, finding a judge wrongly slashed Honigman LLP's fee award when it represented a pair of journalists for free in a public records case.

  • July 26, 2023

    Univ. Research Center Sues DOD For El Salvador Records

    The University of Washington's Center for Human Rights has sued the U.S. Department of Defense in Seattle federal court, alleging the Defense Intelligence Agency has withheld records regarding human rights violations that took place amid armed conflict in El Salvador in the 1980s and early 1990s.

  • July 26, 2023

    Brothers Say Chicago Police Tortured Them For Confessions

    Two brothers who spent 26 years in prison before their convictions were vacated in the murder of a 10-year-old boy say in new federal lawsuits that members of the Chicago Police Department used false evidence and torture to force their confessions.

  • July 26, 2023

    No Early Release For Sick Prisoner Claiming Inadequate Care

    There will be no compassionate release for a sick man serving 18 years in prison for collecting more than $9 million from Medicare and Medicaid while banned for fraud, a New Jersey federal court decided.

  • July 25, 2023

    Advocates Say Tenn. Child Services Fails To Help Immigrants

    Several undocumented children and their advocates have accused the Tennessee Department of Children's Services of failing to help them pursue legal status, saying the agency allows vulnerable children in its care to age out of a special pathway to citizenship.

  • July 25, 2023

    Brooklyn Public Defender Union To Hold 2nd Lunchtime Picket

    Nearly two years after eligible employees voted to unionize and be represented by the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, Brooklyn Defender Services employees plan to hold a second lunchtime picket on Wednesday as they remain without a contract.

  • July 25, 2023

    New EDNY Committee To Give Convictions A Second Look

    A New York federal prosecutor announced Monday that his office is forming a committee to look over claims of wrongful convictions.

  • July 21, 2023

    How Habeas Corpus Ruling May Condemn Innocent Prisoners

    To Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson, it sounded absurd: Why would legally innocent people — convicted under interpretations of the law that the U.S. Supreme Court later found to be wrong — be denied a chance to seek release from prison?

  • July 21, 2023

    'Paper Abuse': How Family Courts Feed Coercive Control

    Survivors' rights activists say that abusers use the courts to harass and exert control over their former partners. Some states have sought to pass laws curbing the practice. But the lines are tricky to draw, as they pit concerns about weaponizing litigation against due process rights.

  • July 21, 2023

    Section 8 Tenants Are Using New Laws To Fight Housing Bias

    States and cities are increasingly passing laws barring discrimination against tenants who rely on housing assistance vouchers. Now tenants and their advocates are launching a growing number of lawsuits to enforce them.

  • July 21, 2023

    Justice Sotomayor Slams Decision To Execute Ala. Prisoner

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor blasted her colleagues early Friday for allowing Alabama to use a death row inmate as a guinea pig following the state's "tortuous attempts" to execute other prisoners by lethal injection.

  • July 21, 2023

    ACLU Says NJ Judge Safety Law Is Used To Chill Free Speech

    Days after he questioned the absenteeism of the Police Department director during a City Council meeting, Charlie Kratovil, a seasoned local journalist and self-described advocate in New Brunswick, a city in central New Jersey, received a cease-and-desist letter.

  • July 21, 2023

    Judge Tatel On Returning To His Pro Bono Roots

    Senior D.C. Circuit Judge David S. Tatel grew up wanting to become a scientist like his father was, but the 1960s "changed everything," he recently told Law360 as he prepares to retire from the bench.

  • July 21, 2023

    Jersey City Advocates Leave Mark On Right To Counsel Laws

    At eviction hearings nationwide, where a tenant's ability to stay in their home is at stake, an average of 97% of tenants come to court with a handicap — they don't have an attorney.

Expert Analysis

  • DOJ Charging Memo Rescission Aids Prosecutorial Discretion

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    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.

  • A Critical Step Toward Eliminating Profit Motive From Prisons

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    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.

  • Judges On Race

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    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.

  • Judges On Race: Lack Of Data Deters Criminal Justice Reform

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    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 On Race: The Power Of Discretion In Criminal Justice

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    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.

  • Judges On Race: The Path To A More Diverse Bench

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    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.

  • High Court Must Preserve Youth Rights In Sentencing Case

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    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.

  • Judges On Race: Reducing Implicit Bias In Courtrooms

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    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.

  • Lack Of Access To Remote Court Proceedings Is Inexcusable

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    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.

  • Countering Racial Bias In Courts Requires Bold Change

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    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.

  • In Defense Of Data-Based Pretrial Risk Assessment

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    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.

  • Change The Bankruptcy System To Help End Cycle Of Poverty

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    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.

  • Book Review: Did The High Court Cause Mass Incarceration?

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    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.

  • Pandemic Should Propel New Prison Reforms

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    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.

  • Finding A Path Forward To Regulate The Legal Industry

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    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.

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