Why the U.S. is Still Struggling to Provide Access to Justice for All

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Oct 14, 2020 in Legal News

image of scales of justice against the skyOur nation’s justice system is based on the principle of equal justice under the law. That means everyone is treated the same under the law, regardless of how much money you have. In other words, our civil justice system is only as strong as the weakest people who are protected by it.

Unfortunately, in practice, our justice system often fails to live up to this ideal. To make things even more difficult, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant delays for those looking to go to court to resolve legal issues.

However, even without the pandemic, low-income individuals and their families still struggle to get access to justice and advocate for their interests.

One of the biggest problems facing low-income individuals and their families is coming up with the money to pay for an attorney. The legal system has grown and become very complex, which is why it is essential to hire legal representation. If you cannot afford to do that, it can be very difficult to navigate the legal system on your own.

Even if you try to go through the legal system on your own, you may not be able to pay court costs and filing fees, which may lock you out of the justice system before your case has a chance. Another potential barrier to having access to justice is knowing how to find information on court procedures. It can be tough to figure out when and where to file a lawsuit or what your rights are in the courtroom.

When these issues and others prevent low-income individuals from accessing the justice system, they may be unable to have the opportunity to resolve legal problems affecting their quality of life and financial situation, such as issues involving:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Foreclosure
  • Divorce
  • Domestic violence
  • Discrimination
  • Personal Injury

According to the U.S. Institute of Peace, there is no access to justice when citizens, particularly those who are part of marginalized groups, are:

  • Afraid of the justice system
  • Unable to access the system due to a lack of money
  • Unable to hire lawyers
  • Lack the information and knowledge of their rights

How The Trump Administration and Congress are Hurting Access to Justice

There were structural barriers to the justice system even before President Trump took office. However, the Trump Administration and members of Congress have undertaken efforts to block individuals, community groups and others from having their day in court. You can learn more about these efforts in Real Justice Is…, a report created by Earthjustice.

For instance, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt issued a settlement directive placing roadblocks ahead of public interest settlements. 

The Trump Administration also repealed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rule, which was put in place to help protect consumers from lenders looking to abuse them.

The administrative actions and legislative proposals present various threats to access to justice. These threats fit under five categories:

  • Limits on judicial discretion – It is important for courts and judges to have discretion about their decisions, as each situation is different. However, there have been attempts to force judges to issue sanctions, which may limit a court’s ability to provide a remedy for a victim’s injuries.
  • Interfering with settlements – There have been attempts to undermine the government’s ability to agree on meaningful case settlements.
  • Eliminating judicial review – This refers to the attempts to eliminate judicial review, which would limit the ability of courts to hear challenges to government actions.
  • Stripping away your right to sue – The expansion of forced arbitration clauses hidden within the fine print of corporate contracts and other agreements restrict your ability to file a class action lawsuit.
  • Making it too risky or expensive to sue – There are growing attempts seeking to eliminate attorneys’ fees awards in cases against the government and implementing provisions that require the loser of the case to pay.

Contact an Experienced Attorney When You Need Legal Help

At Rizk Law, our Portland personal injury lawyers do not charge anything for an initial legal consultation. This means there is zero risk involved to find out if you may have a valid case for resolving a legal issue.

If you choose to hire us and we take your case, there is no upfront cost to you and no attorney fees to pay unless we first obtain compensation on your behalf.

We represent victims injured due to the negligence of others every day, and we are prepared to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf. Learn more about what our former clients have said about our services.