Access to Justice

  • January 12, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Lawrence J. Fox, George W. and Sadella D. Crawford Visiting Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School

    “I’ve just told you he’s guilty.”

    Still ringing through the courtroom as the last day of Robert McCoy’s trial for murder came to a close, were the stinging words, “I’ve just told you he’s guilty.” If those words had been uttered by the prosecutor, the world would have taken little note. But they were the words of Mr. McCoy’s lawyer made over his client’s express objection and protestation of innocence. They represented the ultimate act of client betrayal made by the constitutionally guaranteed defender of Mr. McCoy’s rights, his one true champion, the only participant in the criminal justice system who was constitutionally required to fulfill Mr. McCoy’s wishes so long as the client was competent and they involved no illegal conduct. On January 17, these words will be at the center of discussion at the U.S. Supreme Court, when it hears this extraordinary case, McCoy v. Louisiana.

  • December 5, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and founding director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law - University Park, Sirine Shebaya, senior staff attorney, Muslim Advocates and , and Abed Ayoub, legal director, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

    *This piece was originally posted on Medium

    What happened at the Supreme Court? On December 4, the Supreme Court issued orders staying the injunctions placed on certain aspects of Ban 3.0 by federal district courts in Hawaii and Maryland. What this means is the third version of the ban can take full effect pending a decision of the Government’s appeal in the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals and pending a decision of the Government’s petition to the Supreme Court to hear the case. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg would have denied the application giving rise to these orders.

  • December 4, 2017
    Guest Post

    Sudha Setty is a professor of law and associate dean at Western New England University School of Law. Her book, National Security Secrecy: Comparative Effects on Democracy and the Rule of Law, was recently published by Cambridge University Press.

    For decades, the balance of national security power has become progressively unmoored from the basic democratic premise that the power to decide what the government does resides with the people through their representatives. Yet post-September 11 national security-related policies have distorted both of these concepts of democracy: exceptionalism and emergency are consistently invoked in the national security context to justify programs that would otherwise be viewed as outside of the legal, structural, and value constraints that society places on government—like extraordinary rendition, torture, and the targeted killings of Americans overseas. On top of that, the secrecy with which certain programs are conducted inverts the democratic structure of transparency in ways that undermine the effectiveness of our governmental structures and lessens our commitment to a society based on the rule of law.

  • November 27, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and founding director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law - University Park

    *This piece was originally posted on Medium

    Witness Fatiha Elgharib, who has lived in Ohio for more than two decades, serves as primary caregiver to a United States citizen child suffering from Down Syndrome, is married to the breadwinner, and faces imminent deportation on November 27. Fatiha became a target of immigration following her fight and support of her husband during the course of NSEERS –a Muslim registration program enacted after the attacks of 9/11. Fatiha’s story highlights the ongoing residual impact of NSEERS and raises important questions about the legitimacy of using a now defunct and ill-conceived policy to generate new deportations.

  • November 17, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Chris Edelson, assistant professor of government, American University School of Public Affairs

    For much of American history, legal rules and cultural norms have deemed women unworthy of trust or responsibility.  The law often treated women as children, incapable of carrying out adult duties. Women did not have the right to vote until 1920. It took until 1961 for the Supreme Court to strike down laws automatically excluding women from jury duty.   Until 1979, state laws made it legally impossible for a husband to rape his wife. In the early 19th century, the doctrine of “coverture” provided that a married woman did not have legal status separate from her husband.  In the eyes of the law, married women were not their own person.  Women were barred—by law or by practice—from professions like law, medicine, and politics.

    We like to think those days are long behind us, that women are no longer second-class citizens relegated to a separate, lesser sphere. But it may be difficult, especially for men, to recognize the ways in which significant problems linger.