March 3, 2019
Law 360 reports on a court loss regarding the Brooklyn detention complex in the case New York Federal Defenders v. Federal Bureau of Prisons. A New York federal judge declined to renew an order mandating strict access to attorneys, finding the lawyers who sued over the ordeal lack standing to bring Sixth Amendment claims. U.S. District Judge Margo K. Brodie said that “"I think the government is right, that as to the Sixth Amendment, it is the right of the accused and not the lawyers. While the inmates have the right to bring this particular claim, the Federal Defenders don't." Deirdre von Dornum, the attorney-in-charge of the Federal Defenders, told reporters after the hearing they plan to add inmates as plaintiffs to cure the standing issue.
March 1, 2019
Oregon Public Broadcasting reports on a new study by Oregon’s Access to Justice Coalition that showed Oregon is meeting only about 16 percent of the need for low-income civil legal aid services. The study revealed that about 84% of the people surveyed who had legal issues did not receive legal help of any kind. This is due to a lack of funding for legal aid offices and attorneys, Bill Penn, assistant director of the Oregon Law Foundation, said. With its current funding level, Oregon only has two attorneys for every 14,000 low-income individuals who qualify for services, but if it was properly funded then it should be two attorneys for every 10,000 people.
February 10, 2019
Law 360 reports on a court victory providing access to attorneys for 1,600 peopled detained in a Brooklyn detention complex. U.S. District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall, who issued the order, noted that the conditions of confinement raised constitutional concerns. Attorneys had alleged that the lack of heat and power inside in the complex had given rise to a "humanitarian crisis.”
February 10, 2019
Law 360 summarize three court cases that could boost immigrants’ access to counsel. The first case focuses on improving conditions in rural Georgia and Louisiana detention centers that inhibit access to counsel for clients by obtaining access to more interpreters and providing sufficient space for attorney-client meetings and teleconferencing. The second case focuses specifically on insufficient telephone access at facilities in southern California that restrict access to legal representation. The third case focuses on the issue of whether immigrant children have a right to appointed counsel before the Ninth Circuit.
January 31, 2019
A Slate article reports that anyone going before a judge in Pennsylvania courts has their access to justice severely risked due to the increased presence of ICE agents in courts there. According to Slate, probation officers and judges tend to help the agency with “identifying undocumented individuals whose immigration status has nothing to do with their claims before the court.”
January 27, 2019
Law 360 discusses the lack of lawyers and legal aid in the rural United States, which is continually getting worse. Research by Lisa Pruitt, Professor of Law at U.C. Davis, documents the limited access to legal services in rural areas. Similarly, the Legal Services Corporation’s 2017 Access to Justice Report found that “low-income, rural residents received inadequate or no professional help for 86 percent of their civil legal problems.”
October 28, 2018
Law 360 reports the challenges that legal funder, Legal Service Corporation (LSC) faces under the Trump Administration. In proposed budgets for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, the Trump administration said Congress should "end the one-size-fits-all model of providing legal services through a single federal grant program" because state and local governments "better understand the needs of their communities."
October 28, 2018
Law 360 reports on a pending U.S. Supreme Court case regarding cy pres deals. Cy pres deals are when class action settlements allocate a portion of the funds to nonprofits when the parties and the judge have agreed the money can't be feasibly distributed to class member. But a challenge to an $8.5 million privacy settlement that has Google LLC paying millions to third parties — and nothing to class members — opens the door for the Supreme Court to issue a broad ruling that could wipe out this significant source of funding for legal aid.
December 5, 2017
The Hartford Courant reports on a new study showing that the provision of free legal services for veterans is correlated with improved veteran health. The study showed that the more legal services veterans received, the better they fared, experiencing reduced symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and psychosis, spending less money on abused substances and having better housing situations. Veteran mental health improved even if they lost the case.
December 15, 2016
A new American Bar Foundation Study reveals the efficacy of a new solution to the growing access to justice crisis in American civil courts. The study looks at a program in Brooklyn Housing Court that provides “navigators,” trained and supervised individuals without full, formal legal training, to unrepresented litigants in New York City’s civil courts. The study shows that the outcome of most eviction cases depends less on the merits of the case and more on whether tenants have access to legal help. Litigants assisted by navigators were 56 percent more likely than unassisted litigants to say they were able to tell their side of the story in court proceedings.