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Uneven Access to Justice: Social Context and Eligibility for the Right to Counsel. Social Problems.
The right to counsel is a cornerstone of due process. This article explores the legal construction of “indigency” in criminal county courts. I examine Texas’s Fair Defense Act (2001), a policy mandate that required all 254 counties to create formal criteria used for determining eligibility for access to counsel, as an empirical case for understanding local policy choices that shape access to justice. Drawing on novel data from court plans, I find significant variation in the stringency of eligibility criteria used to determine indigency. Results show that socioeconomic conditions, racial threat, interest group presence, and elements of judicial discretion are key determinants of restrictive eligibility criteria. These findings suggest racial threat can be tied to the institutional design of policies, rather than the enforcement or dormancy of criminal law. The variable institutionalization of eligibility criteria has implications for understanding the entrenchment of racial and class-based inequalities in access to legal institutions.
Nancy D. Franke and Corey Shdaima, ‘I Have Different Goals Than you, we Can’t be a Team’: Navigating the Tensions of a Courtroom Workgroup in a Prostitution Diversion Program. 16/2 Ethics and Social Welfare, 193–205.
This study explores how professional stakeholders navigate individual and institutional goals, ethical standards, and perspectives within the courtroom workgroup of a prostitution diversion program. We draw from semi-structured qualitative interviews of current and/or past professional stakeholders (N = 22) and past program participants (N = 3). Though collaboration and consensus building among workgroups is a core tenet of problem-solving courts, findings from this study reflect a more complicated landscape. Respondent interviews illustrate the centrality of collaboration and role blurring; the necessity of reciprocity and balance in the team; challenges of role delineation; diversity in understandings about acceptable professional behaviour; and the protective techniques some stakeholders use to shield current and future participants from harm. Findings emphasise that while prostitution diversion programs are often seen as the least bad of several suboptimal options, stakeholders must balance their personal and professional ethics, expectations, and goals often without guidance in order to provide services and support to participants therein.
Julie Goldenson, Stanley Brodsky & Michael Perlin. Trauma-informed forensic mental health assessment: Practical implications, ethical tensions, and alignment with therapeutic jurisprudence principles. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 28(2), 226–239.
This article focuses on trauma-informed assessment of criminal justice involved individuals, given the high rates of trauma exposure and related sequelae in this population. A trauma-informed lens allows forensic mental health examiners to assess examinees in the context of their developmental histories and lived experience. Such a lens also has implications for the entire assessment process in terms of interviewing, psychological testing, diagnostic conclusions, feedback, and the provision of testimony and educating triers of fact. Being adequately compassionate is not only ethical, but also likely to enhance data quality. We identify tensions with respect to maintaining the role clarity necessary for forensic practice, and examiner self-awareness is discussed as a way to manage emotional reactions and to reduce bias and role conflict. We examine these issues through the framework of therapeutic jurisprudence; the principles of this framework and trauma-informed forensic mental health assessments are aligned and could (and should) synergistically lead to important changes to psycho-legal practice.Ben Miller Planning Brady's Comeback: Public Defenders Are Needed as Judges to Lead the Restoration of Brady's Lost Promise American Criminal Law Review.
Since 2020, nearly 60% of all people who have been exonerated have had cases infected with Brady violations.... The promise once surrounding Brady has largely been replaced by hollow prosecutorial proclamations of a commitment to their disclosure obligations followed by courts forgiving those very same prosecutors when they suppress favorable information.... This Essay details why prosecutorial claims of having and following a generous disclosure policy were inaccurate at the time of Turner and remain inaccurate today. It explains that when courts are unwilling to uphold Brady’s purpose of ensuring a fair trial they encourage prosecutors to play games with disclosures.... The Essay concludes by arguing that if there is any chance of systemic improvements to how Brady is applied, courts need judges with different experiences. They need public defenders....