Access to Justice

  • May 20, 2024

    Lethal Injection 'Not Rocket Science,' Ga. Says As Trial Begins

    As Georgia began a bench trial Monday against a death row inmate who is suing to be executed by firing squad, counsel for the state told a federal judge that she expected the inmate to have "a hard road to hoe" in disproving that the state's use of lethal injection is safe, effective and can be carried out with relative ease.

  • May 17, 2024

    NY Discovery Reform Feud Simmers Between DAs, Defenders

    Four years after New York imposed new requirements on prosecutors to more promptly hand over evidence to defendants in criminal cases, data suggests that district attorneys’ offices are still struggling to comply. In the meantime, experts and advocates say many are quietly working to tweak the reforms or potentially scale them back.

  • May 17, 2024

    Reid Collins Helps Score Verdict For Teen In La. Policing Case

    Nearly four years to the day when Louisiana teenager De’Shaun Johnson recorded his mother’s arrest in their Slidell driveway, attorneys with Reid Collins & Tsai LLP and the ACLU help convince a federal jury that a local sheriff’s deputy who threatened to Tase him had intentionally inflicted emotional distress.

  • May 16, 2024

    Lowenstein Sandler Pro Bono Head Leaves Legacy Of Service

    As she winds down her tenure leading Lowenstein Sandler LLP's Center for Public Interest this month, Catherine Weiss is leaving behind a legacy as a fierce public advocate for immigrants and reproductive rights at a time when public interest law as a whole faces new challenges.

  • May 13, 2024

    Jackson, Sotomayor Would Have Taken Up Jury Pool Dispute

    U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor dissented Monday from the other justices' refusal to review a case in which a defendant and his counsel were excluded from attending initial juror qualification in his capital murder case, calling the circumstances "significant and certworthy."

  • May 13, 2024

    Justices Reject Incarcerated Man's Atty Abandonment Claim

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case of a Texas man incarcerated on death row who says his court-appointed lawyer deprived him of a fair chance at challenging his conviction in a 2005 double homicide.

  • May 09, 2024

    Justices Uphold Civil Forfeiture Standards Amid Abuse Fears

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that people whose property is seized during criminal investigations of others aren't entitled to a quicker process to seek its return, even though a majority of justices expressed concerns about the constitutionality of civil forfeiture systems in general.

  • May 03, 2024

    Criminal Defense Attys Push Biden For Cannabis Clemency

    On the heels of the U.S. Department of Justice's announcement that it would recommend relaxing federal restrictions on marijuana, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has urged President Joe Biden to grant clemency and compassionate release to those with federal nonviolent marijuana convictions.

  • May 03, 2024

    How Courts Can Use Generative AI To Help Pro Se Litigants

    While law firms and other private entities have so far been at the forefront of the legal industry's experimentation with generative artificial intelligence, experts say that court systems can play a role in deploying the technology to help self-represented litigants navigate court systems, resolve disputes remotely, and fill out required forms.

  • May 03, 2024

    AI Legal Tools Could Be Too Pricey For Those Most In Need

    At a moment when generative AI is showing potential to help poor and underserved communities address legal issues they've historically had to face without representation, some experts warn that the cost of legal AI tools could put them out of reach for those who need them the most.

  • May 03, 2024

    Stanford Prof On Using Legal AI To Help Real People

    Margaret Hagan, a Stanford Law School professor working on tech-driven solutions to problems in the justice system, said she has little doubt that artificial intelligence, and generative AI in particular, may be able to improve outcomes for ordinary people who interact with the courts.

  • April 30, 2024

    Justices Told Error Admission Merits Respect In Capital Case

    Attorneys general from across the country implored the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to give the "utmost" deference to Oklahoma's confession that prosecutorial misconduct led to the wrongful conviction of a death row inmate and to overturn a state court ruling that rebuffed the admission and upheld the conviction.

  • April 26, 2024

    Mass. Justices Dash Deported Man's Hope For Remote Retrial

    Massachusetts' high court ruled Friday that a man deported to the Dominican Republic cannot appear remotely for his retrial on charges that the justices previously vacated, citing court rules.

  • April 24, 2024

    Broken Promises Land Ga. Prison Officials In Contempt

    A Georgia federal judge has slapped the state's prison officials with a contempt ruling imposing fines and appointing an independent monitor after finding the state Department of Corrections has for years flouted the terms of a settlement over its treatment of prisoners in its most punitive unit.

  • April 23, 2024

    NC Felony Voting Law Struck Down As Unconstitutional

    A North Carolina federal judge has struck down the state's 147-year-old law making it a crime for convicted felons to vote, finding that the statute disproportionately targets Black voters and had been inconsistently enforced in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

  • April 19, 2024

    Shook Hardy Mass Tort Pros Help Nix Pa. Murder Convictions

    Deep experience dealing with expert testimony on complex scientific evidence and local knowledge of the Philadelphia suburbs made Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP partners John Lyons and David Haase a perfect fit for the team that recently helped vacate the decades-old convictions of three men accused of murdering a 70-year-old woman.

  • April 19, 2024

    How Attys Are Helping DC Residents Keep Family Homes

    As homeownership rates among Black residents have fallen in the nation's capital, a new initiative aims to provide legal counsel to people living in homes that were passed down through the generations but don't have clear titles.

  • April 18, 2024

    NYC Bar Rips Hochul Plan To Divert Client Trust Interest Cash

    The New York City Bar Association urged Gov. Kathy Hochul Thursday to reconsider her "eleventh-hour" renewed plan to divert $55 million in interest earned on lawyer trust accounts that typically goes toward legal aid for low-income New Yorkers, saying the "deeply troubling" move undermines the independence of the legal profession.

  • April 18, 2024

    BYU Law Students Develop 2 Access-To-Justice Tools

    Brigham Young University Law School announced this week the development of two new legal technology solutions, one intended to make assigning community service more efficient and the other used to generate divorce documents.

  • April 17, 2024

    'It Has To End': Justices Mull Finality In 32-Year Murder Saga

    In its second review of drug-fueled, baseball bat killings during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday pondered steering an Arizona man's capital punishment challenge toward conclusion, perhaps by handling evidentiary tasks normally left to lower courts.

  • April 17, 2024

    Sentencing Commission Limits Acquitted Conduct Sentencing

    The U.S. Sentencing Commission on Wednesday voted to restrict the controversial practice of considering acquitted conduct in federal sentencing, and floated the possibility of applying the change retroactively.

  • April 17, 2024

    Justices Rule Criminal Forfeiture Deadline Isn't Absolute

    The U.S. Supreme Court held Wednesday that courts can issue forfeiture orders at sentencing in criminal cases even if prosecutors fail to submit a draft request prior to the court-ordered date, ruling noncompliance with the rule doesn't strip judges of the authority to direct defendants to hand over ill-gotten gains.

  • April 15, 2024

    Justices Wary Of Strict Limit On Malicious Prosecution Cases

    Several U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared open Monday to the idea that a charge made without probable cause can be grounds for a malicious prosecution civil suit even if another charge with valid probable cause accompanied it, but without a clear consensus on a precise boundary.

  • April 15, 2024

    Sotomayor, Jackson Dissent As Court Rejects Capital Cases

    In a pair of dissents, Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor on Monday broke with a majority of their colleagues on the U.S. Supreme Court who declined to hear two death penalty cases.

  • April 11, 2024

    Prison Racial Gap Narrowing, No Thanks To Reforms, Study Says

    A wide range of changes to criminal sentencing laws that most states have adopted in the last two decades did not play a major role in the reduction of Black-white disparity in imprisonment seen between 2000 and 2020, according to a study released Thursday by the Council on Criminal Justice.

Expert Analysis

  • Public Interest Attorneys Are Key To Preserving Voting Rights

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    Fourteen states passed laws restricting or limiting voting access last year, highlighting the need to support public interest lawyers who serve as bulwarks against such antidemocratic actions — especially in an election year, says Verna Williams at Equal Justice Works.

  • Officers' Failure To Appear In Court Undermines Justice

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    Ten years of data from Philadelphia show that police officers frequently fail to appear at court hearings for which they’re subpoenaed, which has numerous consequences for defendants, crime victims and the smooth functioning of the criminal legal system, say Lindsay Graef, Sandra Mayson and Aurelie Ouss at the University of Pennsylvania and Megan Stevenson at the University of Virginia.

  • Criminal Defendants Should Have Access To Foreign Evidence

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    A New Jersey federal court recently ordered prosecutors to obtain evidence from India on behalf of the former Cognizant Technology executives they’re prosecuting — a precedent that other courts should follow to make cross-border evidentiary requests more fair and efficient, say Kaylana Mueller-Hsia and Rebecca Wexler at UC Berkeley School of Law.

  • Justices' Forfeiture Ruling Resolves Nonexistent Split

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    The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McIntosh v. U.S., holding that a trial court’s failure to enter a preliminary criminal forfeiture order prior to sentencing doesn’t bar its entry later, is unusual in that it settles an issue on which the lower courts were not divided — but it may apply in certain forfeiture disputes, says Stefan Cassella at Asset Forfeiture Law.

  • Advocating For Disability Rights In Probation And Parole

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    While the U.S. continues to over-police people with disabilities, defense attorneys can play a crucial role in ensuring that clients with disabilities who are on probation or parole have access to the accommodations they need and to which they are legally entitled, says Allison Frankel at the ACLU.

  • 11th Circ. Block Of 'Stop WOKE' Act Is Good For Public Safety

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    The Eleventh Circuit’s recent decision to uphold an injunction of Florida’s so-called Stop WOKE Act, a law that curtails workplace diversity training, means that law enforcement can continue receiving such training — an essential step toward more equitable policing and public safety, say Miriam Krinsky at Fair and Just Prosecution and Diane Goldstein at Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

  • Prosecutors' Growing Case Backlogs Need Urgent Attention

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    Growing case backlogs in prosecutors' offices around the country affect the functioning of the entire criminal legal system, so the problem's root causes must be immediately addressed, say Minnesota county prosecutor John Choi and Montana county prosecutor Audrey Cromwell.

  • Context Is Everything In Justices' Sentencing Relief Decision

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    In the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Pulsifer v. U.S. decision, limiting the number of drug offenders eligible for sentencing relief, the majority and dissent adopted very different contextual frames for interpreting the meaning of “and” — with the practical impact being that thousands more defendants will be subject to severe mandatory minimums, says Douglas Berman at Moritz College of Law​​​​​​​.

  • Passing The HALT Fentanyl Act Will Repeat Past Mistakes

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    The war on drugs has failed, with overdose deaths at an all-time high despite decades of criminalization, so lawmakers should vote no on the HALT Fentanyl Act's proposal to impose lengthy mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl-related drug offenses, says Liz Komar at The Sentencing Project.

  • Behind The Unique Hurdles Of Rural Access To Justice

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    While rural access to justice has become conflated with access to lawyers, the two are not synonymous, and in order to solve both issues, it is critical to further examine the role and impact of resident attorneys in these communities, say Daria Fisher Page and Brian Farrell at the University of Iowa College of Law.

  • Compassionate Release Grants Needed Now More Than Ever

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    After the U.S. Sentencing Commission's recent expansion of the criteria for determining compassionate release eligibility, courts should grant such motions more frequently in light of the inherently dangerous conditions presented by increasingly understaffed and overpopulated federal prisons, say Alan Ellis and Mark Allenbaugh at the Law Offices of Alan Ellis.

  • Justices' Double Jeopardy Ruling Preserves Acquittal Sanctity

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    The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision last week in McElrath v. Georgia, barring the state from retrying a man acquitted of murder after a so-called repugnant verdict, is significant in the tangled web of double jeopardy jurisprudence for its brief and unequivocal protection of an acquittal’s finality, says Lissa Griffin at Pace Law School.

  • NY Must Address Urgent Need For Immigration Legal Aid

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    The recent influx of migrants to New York has exposed the urgent need for state legislators to make a long-term investment in sustainable immigration legal services infrastructure, supervision and training, say Marielena Hincapié and Stephen Yale-Loehr at Cornell Law.

  • 911 Call Scrutiny Should Not Be Used To Identify Suspects

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    Though the use of 911 call analysis to identify suspects continues to spread across the country, this scientifically unproven method opens the door to wrongful convictions, so prosecutors should review investigations that relied on the technique, and lawmakers should ban it nationwide, say Miriam Krinsky at Fair and Just Prosecution and Isabelle Cohn at the Innocence Project.

  • 6 Practice Pointers For Pro Bono Immigration Practice

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    An attorney taking on their first pro bono immigration matter may find the law and procedures beguiling, but understanding key deadlines, the significance of individual immigration judges' rules and specialized aspects of the practice can help avoid common missteps, says Steven Malm at Haynes Boone.

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