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Last month, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) released their 2020 Trends in State Courts. The articles in this year’s publication covered, among many others, a diversity of topics such as on-demand virtual-remote-interpreting services, online dispute resolution, gray divorcees, and the development and testing of visual icons for forms in family law cases. In addition, one of the articles covered the Family Justice Initiative (FJI) and was coauthored by Natalie Knowlton, IAALS Director of Special Projects. To support family courts in evaluating and improving the way domestic relations cases are handled, FJI was formed in 2017 as a partnership…
IAALS is pleased to announce that two of our own have been promoted to director positions as of July 1: Logan Cornett has been promoted to Director of Research and Zack DeMeola has been promoted to Director of Legal Education and the Legal Profession. The promotions are part of a leadership restructuring at IAALS following the passing last year of Alli Gerkman, who served as a senior director for our programmatic work, a position also held by Brittany Kauffman. After nearly a year of reflection and discussion, IAALS has decided not to fill Gerkman’s position. Kauffman will continue as the…
In just a few short months, COVID-19 created unprecedented havoc across the world, touching nearly every aspect of modern life. One area of disruption that has yet to fully materialize is the pandemic’s effect on our legal system.  Civil justice reform expert Rebecca Sandefur, professor at Arizona State University, told Law360 in April: “[T]here is going to be a massive increase in ordinary people’s need for assistance with civil justice problems. The dislocations related to COVID-19 will cause unemployment and all the cascading problems that emerge when people lose income (unemployment claims, unpaid bills, unpaid debts, rent and mortgage, stress…
From June 8–11, 2020, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) commissioned a survey of one thousand registered voters to gauge levels of public trust and confidence in the state courts. This is the seventh consecutive year that the NCSC has published results from their State of the State Courts survey, but many of this year’s questions focused on the coronavirus pandemic and how respondents felt about remote court processes, protective measures for in-person courthouse appearances, and other new realities. Sixty-four percent of respondents were receptive to appearing in courtrooms remotely—an increase from 2014, when only 43 percent were receptive.…
In early June 2020, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti announced that there will be an eight-month delay in implementing reforms to Canada’s Divorce Act due to COVID-19. The pandemic “has shut down the courts and preoccupied provincial and territorial governments that need more time to align their laws and regulations with the new federal law.” The reforms were expected to be implemented on July 1, but are now pushed back until March 2021. The Canadian Press reports that the reforms included a comprehensive definition of family violence as well as a requirement that courts take…
On June 25, IAALS and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law co-hosted a virtual discussion with William Henderson, Professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and ABA Journal Legal Rebel. As part of our Future of Legal Services Speaker Series, Henderson laid out the current legal services landscape, how (and why) the system is no longer working, and why state supreme courts are best positioned to pioneer new regulatory models. Video of the event is available below, along with presentation slides. Henderson opened by outlining how the legal profession is currently experiencing an “uncomfortable…
In May 2020, the California State Bar Board of Trustees authorized the formation of the Closing the Justice Gap (CTJG) Working Group to explore further the recommendations of the Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (ATILS). The ATILS Task Force—a diverse group of attorneys and members of the public—worked for years to research and recommend innovative solutions to increase access, including the development of a regulatory sandbox to test whether new regulatory rules and new legal services entities could make a demonstrable dent in the access to justice gap.  Today, the California Board of Trustees is
Momentum for regulatory reform continues to build this summer, as states across the country move forward with groundbreaking experiments to expand the delivery of legal services—with the potential to make them more accessible and affordable for all. This being said, we cannot take any of the progress being made for granted, or get comfortable thinking regulatory reform is an inevitability. Change on the scale needed to better ensure access to justice should not be thought to be guaranteed—it requires hard work and dedication now and tomorrow from as many supporters as possible. We are living in unprecedented times. As many…
IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, announced today that Scott Bales, its Executive Director, will step down effective July 31, 2020. Bales said he has been honored to lead IAALS over this past year but has concluded that IAALS will benefit by having an Executive Director who resides in Denver, which his family circumstances preclude. Bales retired from Arizona’s Supreme Court in 2019 and has been commuting between his home in Arizona and the IAALS office on DU’s campus. “Working with the tremendous team at IAALS to improve our…
Justified outrage over the killings of George Floyd and other Black Americans is prompting overdue efforts to address police brutality and other law enforcement practices impacting communities of color. But the legacy of racism that blights our criminal justice system also creates inequities in our society more broadly, and the nationwide protests have served as clarion calls for reassessing how both we as individuals and our institutions can better promote civil rights, equity, and inclusion. IAALS joins others in this process of listening, reflecting, and recommitting ourselves to these goals because they are central to our vision of a justice…
For the second year in a row, Ohio is on track to make significant amendments to its Rules of Civil Procedure and to pilot a second civil justice case management reform project. Ohio’s rule amendments parallel the 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but also align with national recommendations for reform, including the 2016 Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) Civil Justice Initiative recommendations. The state’s rule amendments and pilot projects also reflect similar reforms made in Idaho, Maine, Missouri, and Texas as part of the CCJ recommendations’ implementation phase—as examined in our recent report, The Road
The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the country, as people call for a reckoning on systemic injustice and for long-overdue change. These recent events have led to conversations around reforming not only the police, but the multiple systems in place that perpetuate inequality and inaccessibility to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. As Rohan Pavuluri, CEO of Upsolve and a member of the Legal Services Corporation’s Emerging Leaders Council, recently explained in Law360, a “less discussed, yet still pernicious, set of policies that must change are the rules lawyers use…
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…