Civil Legal Services

  • February 12, 2016

    by Nanya Springer 

    The IRS awarded Karl Rove’s “social welfare” group, Crossroads GPS, tax-exempt status Tuesday, reports Justin Miller at The American Prospect. Groups like Rove’s exploit “the lack of enforcement from the IRS and the Federal Election Commission to give cover to high-dollar donors who want to remain anonymous,” he says.

    Also in The American Prospect, Eliza Newlin Carney investigates the pitfalls of giving political parties the same freedom to raise unrestricted, high-dollar contributions that super PACs and other outside groups currently enjoy.

    In The Atlantic, J. Weston Phippen reports that Officer Peter Liang has been found guilty of manslaughter and official misconduct by a New York jury for the shooting death of Akai Gurley.

    Sara Sternberg Greene at The Marshall Project discusses her forthcoming study that examines why low-income individuals–and low-income African Americans in particular‒mistrust the civil justice system, and the consequences of that mistrust.

    Laura McKenna examines Ill. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal for a state takeover of Chicago’s struggling public school system in The Atlantic.

  • January 20, 2016
    Guest Post

    by Peter Edelman, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy, Georgetown Law Center, and Chair, District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission

    This is a perfect time to say thank you to Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman of the New York State Court of Appeals for his phenomenal leadership and accomplishments. He is still alive and well, and I know he will remain active in his longstanding and highly energetic pursuit of justice, but his retirement represents a moment when we can appreciate him publicly.

    I know Chief Judge Lippman through my work on the DC Access to Justice Commission, and I think there is no chief justice or chief judge who is more committed to access to justice (although a few others may be in a tie with him). What he has gotten done is nothing short of incredible, and along with that he has always been available to go practically anywhere to spread the word.  Even among the hard core of those already committed, he always inspires everyone in the room to work harder and do more. Passion and being the chief judge don’t usually go together, at least in public, so it is extra special that CJ Lippman displays his passion for access to justice so openly. I love it.

    There is so much to recount. Getting $85 million from the legislature for civil legal aid this past year is one astonishing item, but it’s a culmination of work the CJ started the minute he took on the job years ago. His listening meetings around the state (as though he were running for office) built the foundation for everything else. Pretty shrewd, if I may say so. He formed a Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York and in 2015 made it into the Permanent Commission on Access to Justice. There was always something new. Every new day has been a day to do more. Whether it was pressing for more pro bono, pushing students to do more, or involving non-lawyers in useful roles, he had great ideas and he made them happen.

  • February 25, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Katrina vanden Heuvel writes in The Washington Post that there is reason to hope for significant criminal justice reform

    In USA Today, Richard Wolf explains the religious discrimination case against retailor Abercrombie & Fitch, which asks to the Supreme Court to consider whether job applicants must ask for religious accommodations or the employer should recognize the need for them.

    David Welna reports for NPR on how the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA interrogation and detention techniques has changed arguments for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

    Scott Dodson discusses Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her impact on the Supreme Court and modern jurisprudence at Hamilton and Griffin on Rights.

    In The New York Times, Katie Zernike reports on a New Jersey judge’s ruling that Governor Chris Christie broke the law by not making full pension payments.

    Mark Joseph Stern takes a look in Slate at new plans from state legislatures to tackle the problem of rape on college campuses.

  • September 4, 2014

    by Caroline Cox

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled this morning that it will hold an en banc rehearing in Halbig v. Burwell, the case dealing with the legality of some Affordable Care Act subsidies, reports Zoe Tillman in The National Law JournalJeffrey Toobin explains in The New Yorker how the fight in Halbig is also a fight over whether textualism should serve as a dominant legal theory.

    Ben Protess reports in The New York Times on the departure of Tony West from the Department of Justice. West delivered remarks at the 2013 ACS National Convention.

    In Politico, David Rogers reports on a case between the Justice Department and immigrant-rights groups over whether illegal immigrants should be provided counsel.

    U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman’s ruling to uphold Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriages carefully appeals to the Supreme Court’s swing voter, argues Garrett Epps in The Atlantic.

    In Slate, Dahlia Lithwick writes on what the justice system should learn from the recent ruling that, thirty years after their convictions in a 1983 murder case, two mentally disabled half-brothers are innocent. 

  • August 22, 2014

    by Jeremy Leaming

    In a class society burdened by festering economic inequality and too many lawmakers bent on cutting funding for civil legal aid, the struggle for an accessible justice system can appear insurmountable.

    But some new research emerging from Voices for Civil Justice and the Public Welfare Foundation, indicates that a growing number in the legal profession do care about a justice system that is inclusive -- not one that caters solely to the well-off.

    The groups commissioned polling work by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group, and among the information they are making public now shows that a “strong majority of lawyers – 59 percent – indicate a previous or current involvement with civil legal aid as donors or volunteers.”

    The research, which will be released in its entirety in September, also reveals that 65 percent of lawyers “express initial support for increasing government funding for civil legal aid.”

    Beyond the debilitating effects of the Great Recession, a rapidly growing number of unaccompanied children arriving, many along the U.S.-Mexico border, are facing deportation with no legal representation – or very little. As Voices for Civil Justice and Public Welfare Foundation note there are groups within the legal community that see the injustice of the situation and are striving to do something about it.

    Reporting on the uptick of unaccompanied migrants, Rick Jervis of USA Today notes that the Obama administration is urging Congress to authorize “$3.7 billion in emergency funding, which includes $45 million for new judges plus funding for legal aid for children ….” Jervis continues, however, that conservative lawmakers “have balked at the proposal. They want to make it easier to send the youths back.”

    But Jonathan Ryan, head of the Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, highlights the injustice of denying legal aid to unaccompanied children.