Access to Justice

An Urgent Time to Fight for Human Rights

SALT Statement on Human Rights Day December 10, 2016 The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), a community of progressive law teachers working for justice, diversity, and academic excellence, is committed to respect for the rule of law, to an inclusive society, and to social justice. SALT’s current human rights agenda focuses on many critical issues, such as affirmative action, academic freedom, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, institutional racism, inequality, and the treatment of prisoners. This Human Rights Day, SALT reaffirms its commitment to defending and securing the humanity, dignity, and rights of all people. We join with others across the political spectrum to express grave concerns about the future of civil, constitutional, and human rights under the administration of... Continue »

SALT Joins Amicus Brief with the NY Court of Appeals Addressing Color Discrimination in Jury Selection

On October 20, 2016, SALT joined the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality (Korematsu Center), 18 other bar associations and non-profit organizations, and 32 law school professors in filing an amicus brief with the New York Court of Appeals, urging the Court to recognize that excluding an individual from jury service based on the color of her skin violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States and New York Constitutions. The United States Supreme Court held in the seminal case Batson v. Kentucky that a prosecutor who exercises a peremptory strike raising an inference of racial discrimination must provide a neutral explanation for the strike. 476 U.S. 79, 97 (1986). In the case before the New... Continue »

Unwarranted Warrants in Baltimore

In this holy day season of Light, Hope, and “good will toward all humanity,” we join together to trumpet our support for the proposal put forth by Professor Doug Colbert’s University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law students in their op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun (“Unwarranted Warrants in Baltimore,” Thursday, December 10, 2015).   The idea of a “Warrant Forgiveness Program,” that allows for the one-time re-scheduling of court appearances for failure to appear may not solve all the problems of our criminal justice system, but can serve as a spark of light and hope for some who must navigate the system.  This program will serve the guiding principle of “harm reduction,” rooted in our values of justice and forgiveness, and will allow offenders to meet their… Continue »

Chasing the Kardashians

Written by Hazel Weiser Here’s where I disagree with Professor Tamanaha.  It’s not that SALT has been silent or callous about the rise of student debt.  As Dean Van Cleave so passionately stated in her recent blog, to solve the economic problem the profession faces, we have to answer the hard and existential question of who lawyers are and what role we play within a democratic society. Since its inception in 1974, SALT has been trying to change what it means to be a lawyer.  We have tried by introducing more clinics, more jurisprudence focused on vulnerable populations, and an urgent sense that law can balance inequality. We have tried to transform the law schools where we teach to... Continue »

Call for Papers: ClassCrits VI

This year’s ClassCrits meeting will be at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, November 15-16.  The deadline for abstracts and panel proposals is fast approaching:  March 20, 2013. The call follows, and you can get more details here.  Send proposals to classcrits@gmail.com. The theme of this year’s workshop–the sixth meeting of ClassCrits–is debt, austerity and the possibilities of the political. The economic crisis of 2008 was a referendum on the failures of deregulation and neoliberal ideology all over the world. Far from being a sophisticated mechanism to absorb and diffuse systemic economic risk, the crisis exposed a fragile global financial system characterized by dysfunctional imbalances of increasingly precarious and largely unregulated risk societies. In the United States, the social contract of class mobility and the “American Dream” financed with “easy”… Continue »

Getting my Snoot on in Toledo: Disappointment with Obama, Worry with Romney

Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law As I frequently do Sunday’s mornings in Toledo, picked up the Sunday Toledo Blade at the 7/11 (Comenatchi? (Hi!) Paloatchi (Hi back at you!) Gorum! Gorum! (Hot! Hot!) Rodje! (Sunny!) Tanda! (Cool in here!) being the usual Bengali conversation I have with the staff there) and went over to Rick’s on Bancroft for breakfast before church. As I sat down at the counter, I opened the Blade to the “Behind the News” section and saw an article entitled “Romney in exclusive company at Harvard, Relatively few finish MBA-law program” with a picture of a young Romney with kids and wife, a picture of Obama, and a... Continue »

(Updated – 7/14) Romney, NAACP,Obamacare, Bain, Obama, Harvard and all that: Notes from the Midstream of an Internationalist African-American Harvard JD-MBA

By Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law (Update:  Other than Romney and Obama, I am avoiding using names of others here to respect their privacy.  I sent a copy of this post to some of my old HBS classmates and one has pointed me to another article on Romney that, unlike the bio on his campaign site, points out that Romney was a Baker Scholar (alone an extraordinary achievement) at HBS and, while not Harvard Law Review like Obama, he graduated with honors from HLS (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/us/politics/how-harvard-shaped-mitt-romney.html?pagewanted=all).  So he superfits the mold of the person my high-school classmate described who was hired at Bain.  Also, have found that in the 1979-1981 period, at least one African-American worked at Bain as an consultant.  He came to Bain… Continue »

Flawed Justice for Terror Suspects

By Benjamin G. Davis This commentary first appeared in the Toledo Blade on June 17, 2012. On Sept. 11, 2001, I lost a friend from high school who had gone to the World Trade Center in New York City that day to make a speech. I cannot imagine the depth of the pain suffered by the families of the 9/11 victims. I share their frustration with the delays in bringing the alleged perpetrators of the attacks to justice. Most recently, those delays have afflicted the military commission at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba, that is trying the reputed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four associates for war crimes. Both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations and Congress bear much of the blame for these delays. Starting just five… Continue »

What law do you want to teach?

Judicial vacancies restrict access to the federal courts, make litigation more expensive, and insidiously undermine the credibility of government. And a confirmation process that prevents qualified candidates of an elected president’s party from taking office sways the judiciary further to the right despite an election where voters said civil liberties, clean air, privacy, reproductive rights, social justice, and corporate accountability were important issues for our federal government to maintain and safeguard.

The Alliance for Justice has created a fantastic resource to help educate voters and civic leaders about the state of judicial nominations. The Judicial Selection Project has a running count of vacancies in the district and circuit courts, along with profiles of all of the current nominees. It’s a great lesson in the advise & consent function of the Senate, or at least what can go wrong with it.

When Just Right is Unjust: Goldilocks Jurisprudence and the Right to Counsel in Post-Conviction Appeals

By Hugh Mundy During its October 2011 term, the Supreme Court issued two well-publicized decisions severely curtailing the already tenuous Fourth Amendment rights of the accused and incarcerated.  First, in Howes v. Fields, the Court held that prisoner interrogations held “in private” about “events occurring outside the prison” do not require Miranda warnings.  In addition, in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Court sanctioned jailhouse strip searches of arrestees without reasonable – or any – suspicion of criminal activity.  Even as the Court further eviscerated the Fourth Amendment rights of those in custody, two other rulings, Maples v. Thomas and Martinez v. Ryan, extended the Sixth Amendment right to counsel for incarcerated litigants.  Still, unlike the obvious damage to prisoner’s rights wrought by the Fourth Amendment cases, the utility… Continue »