Category Archives: Access to Justice

New Article: “When Interests Converge: An Access-to-Justice Mission for Law Schools”

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: “Over-Disciplining Students, Racial Bias, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline”

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: “The Purpose of Harvard Law School”

News Article: Marina N. Bolotnikova, “The Purpose of Harvard Law School,” Harvard Magazine, Sept. 17, 2016.

News Coverage: “Judges Across The Country Are Shaking Down Poor People”

News Coverage: Bryce Covert, Judges Across The Country Are Shaking Down Poor People, Think Progress, Aug. 24, 2016 [extended article on court fees].

New Book: “The Poverty Law Canon: Exploring the Major Cases”

Poverty Canon CoverI am excited to announce that The Poverty Law Canon: Exploring the Major Cases (Marie Failinger & Ezra Rosser eds., Univ. of Michigan Press, 2016) is now published and available through both the Michigan Press website and Amazon, etc (the library edition is $95 and the paperback is $39.95).

I have a bit more to say about this book, below, but first I want to highlight the contents of the book.  The book came out of a 2013 conference and features a great group of contributors as can be seen from the chapter list:

 

Introduction – Ezra Rosser

Part I: Victories

When Paupers Became People: Edwards v. California (1941) – Clare Pastore

Remaking the “Law of the Poor”: Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co. (1965)  – Anne Fleming

Sylvester Smith, Unlikely Heroine: King v. Smith (1968) – Henry Freedman

Legal Services Attorneys and Migrant Advocates Join Forces: Shapiro v. Thompson (1969)  – Elisa Alvarez Minoff

Dignity and Passion: Goldberg v. Kelly (1970) – Melanie B. Abbott

Litigating in the Zeitgeist: Rosado v. Wyman (1970) – Wendy A. Bach

Part II: Losses

A Sweeping Refusal of Equal Protection: Dandridge v. Williams (1970) – Julie A. Nice

Privacy as a Luxury Not for the Poor: Wyman v. James (1971) – Michele Estrin Gilman

A Tragedy of Two Americas: Jefferson v. Hackney (1972) – Marie A. Failinger

Denying the Poor Access to Court: United States v. Kras (1973) – Henry Rose

“The Poor People Have Lost Again”: San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (1973) – Camille Walsh

Part III: The Modern Era

Reflecting and Foreshadowing: Mathews v. Eldridge (1976) – John J. Capowski

Chronicle of a Debt Foretold: Zablocki v. Red Hail (1978) – Tonya L. Brito, R. Kirk Anderson, and Monica Wedgewood

The Movement for a Right to Counsel in Civil Cases: Turner v. Rogers (2011) – Kelly Terry

Public Housing as Housing of Last Resort: Department of Housing and Urban Development v. Rucker (2002) – Nestor M. Davidson

 

As with any effort to put together a list of important cases, there are cases that arguably should have been included and/or excluded; the chapters represent a combination of the importance of the cases and the interests of the contributors.  But I hope this book will be of interest to those interested in poverty or poverty law in the United States.

“The contributors include some of the best academics who write and teach about poverty. The back stories of these cases are multidimensionally interesting—the clients, the legal strategies, the lawyers themselves, the historical and political context, the effect on the law, the backstage of the Supreme Court and the role of the law clerks.” – Peter Edelman

As one of the editors, I want to thank Michigan Press for taking a chance on this book, Marie Failinger for being such a great co-editor, and all the contributors for their patience as this book made its slow way from idea to something that can be picked up.


I want to end on a personal note.  I see The Poverty Law Canon as being closely related to the Juliet Brodie, Clare Pastore, Ezra Rosser & Jeff Selbin, Poverty Law, Policy, and Practice (2014) in that both are efforts to think through and share the connection between poverty and law in a manner that hopefully will appeal to scholars and students.  The books are linked in my mind, and not only because of the work involved.  I dedicated my role on the textbook to my late father-in-law, Mario Castro, and my part of the dedication page of The Poverty Law Canon reads:

To my students and to my colleagues and mentors at American University Washington College of Law, especially Susan Bennett, Claudio Grossman, and Ira Robbins. It is a privilege to get to teach and write in your company.

Thanks for putting up with this long aside, now buy your copy and tell your librarian to do the same!  =)

Op-Ed: “Adding a legal dimension to multidimensional poverty”

Op-Ed: Paul Prettitore, Adding a legal dimension to multidimensional poverty, Brookings Future Development Blog, May 19, 2016.

New Article: “In Louisiana, The Poor Lack Legal Defense”

New Article: Campbell Robertson, “In Louisiana, The Poor Lack Legal Defense” – The New York Times

New Article: “Court Fees Create ‘Endless Cycle Of Debt’ For Poor”

New Article: “Court Fees Create ‘Endless Circle Of Debt’ For Poor” – The Crime Report

New Article: “State Bans on Debtors’ Prisons and Criminal Justice Debt”

New Article: State Bans on Debtors’ Prisons and Criminal Justice Debt, 129 Harv. L. Rev. 1024 (February 10, 2016).

Upcoming Panel: “Addressing the Gap in Civil Legal Services: Serving Underrepresented Clients & Communities” – Washington, DC, Feb. 13, 2016 at 10:45 am

As part of my school’s celebration of a new building, the school is hosting the following panel, so if you know of people in DC who would be interested, please share:

Addressing the Gap in Civil Legal Services: Serving Underrepresented Clients & Communities
Discussion of the range of public interest law activities and jobs that students and graduates engage in, focusing on how people engage in public interest law at different stages of their careers. Additional topics may include the place of public interest law at the law school, the challenges and rewards of doing public interest work, and how lawyers can find meaning and fulfillment through work and service.

Moderator: Professor Susan Bennett
Panelists: Jeanne Atkinson (’91), Catholic Legal Immigration Network; Lisa Dewey (’93), Pro Bono Partner, DLA Piper; Antonia Fasanelli (’01), Executive Director, Homeless Persons Representation Project; Lora Rath (’91), Director, Office of Compliance and Enforcement, Legal Services Corporation; Naznin Saifi (’92), Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center; Zafar Shah (’08), Staff Attorney, Public Justice Center; Bradford Voegeli (’11), Staff Attorney, Neighborhood Legal Services Project
Student Ambassadors: Alejandra Arias (’19) and Jordan Helton (’18)

More info on registering can be found here (and it is first come first served with registration closing on Feb. 8 at noon).