Lots of good articles. See below:
Democracy, Civil Society, and Public Interest Law by Catherine Albiston
Public interest law organizations (PILOs) play a significant role in democracy and American society. Historically, they have enabled underrepresented voices to be heard in the political process and have vindicated public values by enforcing civil rights laws. They also have shaped and expanded the public sphere through litigation, media coverage, and their association with social movements seeking social change. As public interest law expanded dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s, it came to mean much more than pro bono representation of the poor. Courts and lawyers recognized public interest litigation as a legitimate form of political expression and civic participation.
The Keys to the Kingdom: Judges, Pre-hearing Procedure, and Access to Justice by Colleen F. Shanahan
Judges see themselves as—and many reforming voices urge them to be—facilitators of access to justice for pro se parties in our state civil and administrative courts. Judges’ roles in pro se access to justice are inextricably linked with procedures and substantive law, yet our understanding of this relationship is limited. Do we change the rules, judicial behavior, or both to help self-represented parties? We have begun to examine this nuanced question in the courtroom, but we have not examined it in a potentially more promising context: pre-hearing motions made outside the courtroom. Outside the courtroom, judges rule on requests such as motions to continue or for telephone appearances that allow parties to participate in and access the hearing room. These requests have significant consequences for the party, do not implicate the merits of the underlying case, and are a pared-down environment in which to examine the interaction of judicial behavior and procedures.
Studying the “New” Civil Judges by Anna E. Carpenter et al.
We know very little about the people and institutions that make up the bulk of the United States civil justice system: state judges and state courts. Our understanding of civil justice is based primarily on federal litigation and the decisions of appellate judges. Staggeringly little legal scholarship focuses on state courts and judges. We simply do not know what most judges are doing in their day-to-day courtroom roles or in their roles as institutional actors and managers of civil justice infrastructure. We know little about the factors that shape and influence judicial practices, let alone the consequences of those practices for courts, litigants, and the public. From top to bottom, we can describe and theorize about our existing civil justice system in only piecemeal ways. Given legal scholarship’s near complete focus on federal civil courts, the stories we tell about the civil justice system may be based on assumptions and models that only apply in the rarefied world of federal court. Meanwhile, state judges and courts— which handle ninety-nine percent of all civil cases—are ripe for theoretical and empirical exploration.
Simplicity as Justice by Kathryn A. Sabbeth
Simplification of the legal system has attracted attention as a means of improving access to justice. A major motivation driving reform is the perception that pro se litigants have flooded the courts and begun clogging up the wheels of justice. Ordinary people do not know rules of procedure, evidence, or substantive law; do not handle their cases effectively or efficiently; and have, the argument goes, generated a “pro se crisis.” A number of states and localities have responded by increasing the availability of legal services, funding programs that offer solutions ranging from limited assistance to full representation, and a few legislatures have even established a statutory right to counsel for particular categories of cases. Given the expense of advocates’ labor, however, most jurisdictions have sought instead to improve litigants’ ability to handle their legal matters on their own. As an alternative to providing litigants with representatives who could help them navigate the courts, a growing number of commentators propose simplifying proceedings to obviate the need for such representation. Methods of simplification include creating form pleadings, introducing technology, and relaxing formal rules that could confuse lay litigants. Proponents of simplification claim that it will decrease the time and cost of proceedings, help litigants meet the technical requirements of the fora in which they appear, and increase litigants’ satisfaction with the process.
Toward Universal Deportation Defense: An Optimistic View by Michael Kagan
One of the most positive responses to heightened federal enforcement of immigration laws has been increasing local and philanthropic interest in supporting immigrant legal defense. These measures are tentative and may be fleeting, and for the time being are not a substitute for federal support for an immigration public defender system. Nevertheless, it is now possible to envision many more immigrants in deportation having access to counsel, maybe even a situation in which the majority do. In this paper, I make no real predictions. Instead, I offer a deliberately—perhaps even blindly— optimistic assessment of how concrete steps that have already been taken could grow into a system of universal deportation defense. In the process, I try to identify what still needs to happen for this to be achieved, and offer some thoughts on how this might change the practice of immigration law in the United States.