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The 2018 election season saw several efforts to remove a judge from office based on a single controversial ruling. In Alaska, Superior Court Judge Michael Corey lost his bid for retention after he approved a no-jail time plea bargain for a defendant charged with assaulting a woman in a sexual manner. In California, Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was recalled by voters after he delivered a lenient sentence to a defendant in a highly publicized rape case. Californians were also urged not to retain state Supreme Court Justice Carol Corrigan, based on her dissent in a same-sex marriage case ten…
IAALS research uncovers critical areas that shape levels of trust in the legal system and what drives public perceptions and attitudes.  IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, released Public Perspectives on Trust & Confidence in the Courts. The report reveals insights into how the public views court systems and processes, judges and the judiciary, and information about the legal system—and is the culmination of IAALS’ two-year Public Trust and Confidence project. Public trust and confidence in the American legal system is too low, as evidenced by studies and polling done by IAALS and others…
Earlier this month, the Civil Justice Council in England and Wales published a report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on civil court users. Like the rest of the world, these two countries have had to adapt to new realities, including those related to the justice system. In late March, the judiciary published its Protocol Regarding Remote Hearings to help guide the County Court, High Court, and Court of Appeal as they transitioned from conducting court business in-person. Now, with the assistance of the Legal Education Foundation, the council has conducted a rapid review of the remote hearings in…
As the whole country grapples with reopening, our federal courts continue their own efforts to respond in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 24, 2020, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts distributed Federal Judiciary COVID-19 Recovery Guidelines for restoring operations, which rely heavily on the conditions of local communities as well as local and state orders and data. The guidelines note that “[b]ecause each state and municipality is in a different posture in the fight against COVID-19, each circuit and district will have to make local decisions on operational status based on the jurisdiction’s current COVID-19 case…
Many people might view the courts and the legal system as something distant that has little effect on our personal lives. And that may be true—until you need it. And then when you need it, you realize just how difficult it can be to navigate and just how out of reach justice can feel. My recent experience with the civil justice system—even pre-COVID-19—has been frustrating, to say the least. When it rains, it pours: I’ve had four active legal issues arise seemingly all at once. At the outset, all of them seemed fairly routine and like things everyone might need…
The reform of lawyer and legal services regulation is a topic of growing interest in states across America, and a new report out of England and Wales contributes to the momentum around new frameworks for regulation. The Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation published and submitted its final report to the Lord Chancellor today, after two years of work that included six working papers, an interim report, and meetings with more than 340 stakeholders. The review was an independent effort designed to assist the government in assessing the current regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales. The comprehensive 340-page report
The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled us into a much more virtual world. As companies and schools have clamored to move online and continue operations, so too has the American justice system. State and federal courts have worked overtime to implement video- and tele-conferencing, remote filing, and even remote jury trials in order to ensure due process. Other pioneering efforts are underway. While all of this has guarded against a total shutdown of our justice system amidst an unprecedented global crisis, the backlog of cases—both related and unrelated to COVID-19—is steadily rising. And with social distancing likely to become…
In March, Law School Transparency published LST’s 2025 Vision: A Modern Blueprint for Change, which outlines plans and proposals for law schools to become more accessible, affordable, and innovative. “When we collectively fail to address serious problems with law school access, affordability, and innovation, the legal profession loses out on people who could positively impact clients and diversify our profession. It also worsens our access to justice problem, whether because people take fewer entrepreneurial risks, cannot go into public service, or never enter at all.” LST cites affordability as one of law schools’ biggest challenges, something exacerbated by a…
Our mission at IAALS is forging innovative and practical solutions to problems within the American legal system. Like others, we have been forced to assess how our work and other aspects of our lives are impacted by the new reality resulting from COVID-19. The pandemic is highlighting shortcomings of our civil justice system that many people and businesses already knew. The system is too expensive, too complicated, and too slow. Low-income people, according to estimates by the Legal Services Corporation, receive no or inadequate legal help for 86 percent of their civil legal problems. Nearly 76 percent of cases in…
This month, The Pew Charitable Trusts released a new report that looks at trends in debt collection lawsuits in the United States and suggests steps that courts can take to modernize our state civil justice system and ensure access to justice. Pew has also called for these discussions to extend beyond state court officials, legal aid, and reform advocates to policymakers—noting that in many states “policymakers have not been a part of conversations about how and why court systems are shifting; the extent to which the changes might lead to financial harm among American consumers, especially the tens of millions…
Last year, IAALS surveyed members of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) as part of a broader research effort exploring public trust and confidence in the legal system. The ABOTA survey findings were published in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Voir Dire in an article authored by Logan Cornett, IAALS Senior Research Analyst, and Natalie Knowlton, IAALS Director of Special Projects. The survey explored attorney levels of trust and confidence in the system and factors that influence their perspectives. A substantial majority of respondents reported high levels of confidence in both the state and federal court systems (76% and…
IAALS announces new project to help courts more quickly resolve the anticipated wave of business interruption insurance cases stemming from COVID-19-related closures and losses. IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, has launched a new project to create Initial Discovery Protocols for COVID-19 Insurance Claims. In response to the rapid increase in court cases involving business interruption insurance property damage claims arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the project will develop pattern discovery protocols specific to these cases, in an effort to reduce conflict and cost and to help both businesses and insurers alike reach a…
Earlier this year, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) published Unifying Juvenile and Family Matters in Marion County, a set of recommendations for the redesign of the Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis, Indiana. This redesign is “a timely opportunity for the implementation of best practices that can better serve families facing legal challenges through the court.” The comprehensive report, which was presented to Marion County circuit and superior court judges and administrators, covers numerous areas of court operations, including: Operational model and structure Caseflow management and triage Family court services and functions Alternative dispute resolution Self-help Judicial roles,…
Domestic violence affects millions of people across the world. The United Nations reports that, in 2017 alone, more than 50,000 women were killed by intimate partners or family members. And, of course, in 2017 we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic—during which domestic violence victims are often forced to stay at home with their abuser. Most stay-at-home orders have only been in place for a month or two, but the increase in domestic violence reports is devastating. In just the first six weeks of London’s lockdown, police made around 4,000 domestic abuse arrests and received a 33% increase in…
On August 9, 2020, friends, family, and fans of Alli Gerkman will gather at the Farm House at Breckenridge Brewery in Littleton, Colorado, for Alli’s Rally: a fun, free, casual self-supported bike ride to celebrate Alli’s love for riding, her infectious laughter, and her extraordinary legacy. A special jersey with Alli’s likeness can be purchased here; jersey orders must be placed by May 20. You can also honor Alli by making a donation to Wish for Wheels, a non-profit organization that gives new bikes and helmets to 2nd graders in Title 1 schools. The gift of a bike fosters…
In mid-April, the Louisiana Supreme Court announced “changes to its rules that will increase transparency and public access to judicial discipline proceedings while maintaining fairness, due process, and the orderly administration of justice.” The court voted unanimously to make three major changes: Hearings on allegations of judicial misconduct that have been investigated will now be public, as will the record and results of the formal proceedings. If a judge is admonished, any additional admonishments within a judge’s term of office (ten years for appellate court judges and six years for district court and other judges) shall now be public. Information…