Category Archives: Access to Justice
Upcoming Symposium: “Public Interest Mobilization and Access to Justice Movements in the New Democratic State” — Wisconsin Law Review Symposium, October 27, 2017
Editorial Board, In California, poor people go to jail, rich people go free. How long will this go on?, The Sacramento Bee, August 28, 2017. [A look into California’s cash bail system and its disparate effect on California’s less fortunate.]
New Article: “Keeping Gideon’s Promise: Using Equal Protection to Address the Denial of Counsel in Misdemeanor Cases”
New Article: Brandon Buskey & Lauren Sudeall Lucas, Keeping Gideon’s Promise: Using Equal Protection to Address the Denial of Counsel in Misdemeanor Cases, 85 Fordham L. Rev. 2299 (2017). Abstract below:
The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to counsel, and the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that right is applicable to all defendants in felony cases, even those unable to afford a lawyer. Yet, for defendants facing misdemeanor charges, only those defendants whose convictions result in incarceration are entitled to the assistance of counsel.
The number of misdemeanor prosecutions has increased dramatically in recent years, as have the volume and severity of collateral consequences attached to such convictions; yet, the Court’s right to counsel jurisprudence in this area has remained stagnant. Critics of the doctrinal and pragmatic problems created by the Court’s actual incarceration standard have advocated for various reforms to better protect people accused of misdemeanors, including redefinition or expansion of the right to counsel and legislative changes that would cut back on incarceration and allow states to better apportion their limited resources among defendants.
This Article offers a novel perspective, grounded in due process and equal protection and a line of Supreme Court cases that guarantee equal access to the courts. Viewed in that light, indigent misdemeanor defendants denied counsel may not suffer from a Sixth Amendment violation under the law as it stands, but they are deprived of meaningful access to the courts on the basis of wealth. It suggests that reconceputalizing the plight of misdemeanor defendants through the lens of due process and equal protection may help to identify the most effective judicial and legislative solutions to the crisis of “assembly line justice.”
Article: Iris J. Goodwin, Access to Justice: What to Do About the Law of Wills, 5 Wisc. L. Rev. 947 (2016).
Blog Post: Rachel Rintelmann, Why I — and Legal Aid — Stand in Solidarity with LSC, Making Justice Real blog (Mar. 17, 2017).
Udi Ofer, “Getting It Right: Building Effective Civilian Review Boards to Oversee Police,” 46 Seton Hall L. Rev. art. 2 (2016).
Cynthia H. Conti-Cook, Defending the Public: Police Accountability in the Courtroom, 46 Seton Hall L. Rev. art. 3 (2016).
New Article: Raymond H. Brescia, “When Interests Converge: An Access-to-Justice Mission for Law Schools,” Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol’y (forthcoming).
In recent years, law schools have faced a crisis brought on by the external forces of technology, automation, and legal process outsourcing that has translated into poor job prospects for their graduates, and, in turn, a diminution in the number of students interested in attending law schools. Such external phenomena are joined by internal critiques of law schools: that they have failed to educate their students adequately for the practice of law and have adopted dubious strategies without a defining mission, all at a time when the market for legal services seems to be changing, perhaps dramatically. Paradoxically, while graduates face diminished job prospects, there is still a vast justice gap: the inability of millions of Americans to obtain legal assistance when facing a legal problem. There is thus an interest convergence between those who might want access to a lawyer and the law schools that strive to educate the next generation of lawyers and the ones after that. This Article uses this interest convergence — and the late Derrick Bell’s “Interest Convergence Theory” as a lens through which to view it — as an opportunity for law schools to retool their missions to confront the access-to-justice crisis facing many Americans. It argues that law schools should embrace an access-to-justice component to their missions to help increase demand for legal services, re-establish the value of legal assistance to the community, restore the importance of the legal profession in preserving and extending societally important rights and interests, and improve the demand for legal education.
New Article: Jason P. Nance, “Over-Disciplining Students, Racial Bias, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” 50 Richmond L. Rev. 1063 (2016).
Over the last three decades, our nation has witnessed a dramatic change regarding how schools discipline children. Empirical evidence during this time period demonstrates that schools increasingly have relied on extreme forms of punishment such as suspensions, expulsions, referrals to law enforcement, and school-based arrests to discipline students for violations of school rules, including for low-level offenses. Many have referred to this disturbing trend of schools directly referring students to law enforcement or creating conditions under which students are more likely to become involved in the justice system — such as suspending or expelling them — as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Perhaps the most alarming aspect of over-disciplining students and of the school-to-prison pipeline generally is that not all racial groups are affected equally by these negative trends. This short symposium essay describes the observed racial disparities associated with disciplining students. It then discusses the concept of implicit racial bias, which appears to be one of the causes of these racial disparities. Finally, it describes the role that national and state government entities, including the U.S. Department of Education and state departments of education, can play in forming a comprehensive strategy to address the implicit racial biases of educators.
News Article: Marina N. Bolotnikova, “The Purpose of Harvard Law School,” Harvard Magazine, Sept. 17, 2016.
News Coverage: Bryce Covert, Judges Across The Country Are Shaking Down Poor People, Think Progress, Aug. 24, 2016 [extended article on court fees].