The Center for Access to Justice conducts and facilitates research to help identify and better understand the difficulties individuals face in navigating the justice system. Below are a few examples of the research projects underway or recently completed by the center and its student fellows.
In partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology’s Joshua Weitz and Chad Wigington, the center produced this Access to Justice map of Georgia, which provides a snapshot of metrics that might affect how, and if, Georgia residents are able to gain ready access to the justice system. The data, compiled from a number of sources, are depicted graphically to demonstrate the ways in which geographic location and other demographic data may have a significant impact on the ability to utilize available resources in the pursuit of justice.
- Eviction in Semi-Rural Georgia: The center was selected from a pool of 94 applicants to receive a 2018 Opportunity Grant from the American Bar Endowment, an independent 501(c)(3) public charity. The $24,000 grant supports a pilot study exploring eviction in semi-rural Georgia. The study is a collaboration with the Georgia State Sociology department and the Georgia Legal Services Program.
- Rural Justice: Center faculty director, Lauren Sudeall, co-authored a piece about the distinct access to justice issues facing rural litigants. Surveying six geographically, demographically, and economically varied states, the article explores common obstacles and potential solutions that may prompt re-thinking how justice stakeholders and legal educators approach bridging the justice gap in rural areas. Read the published article here.
- Assessing the Civil Legal Needs of Indigent Criminal Defendants: Supported by a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation, the center conducted a study of the civil legal needs of indigent criminal defendants. In conjunction with the Sociology and Criminal Justice and Criminology departments at Georgia State, the center worked with public defender offices in Fulton and DeKalb counties to assess the nature and pervasiveness of civil legal issues facing those who enter the criminal justice system. Read the published article here.
- Misdemeanor Bail Reform: A Summary of Recent Efforts: Several states and municipalities, including Atlanta, have recently enacted or considered legislation to address pretrial policy, such as bail practices. The center prepared this report for the Georgia Judicial Council’s Committee on Misdemeanor Bail for its use in considering what changes might be implemented in Georgia.
- Observations from Mississippi State Criminal Courts: As part of an Alternative Spring Break trip and in conjunction with the Mississippi Office of the Public Defender, students working with the center conducted court observation to identify trends in indigent defendants’ experience in state criminal courts. The center then prepared this report detailing the unconstitutional practices students witnessed in some of Mississippi’s misdemeanor courts.
- Self-help Resources in Georgia: In 2016, more than 800,000 cases in Georgia involved self-represented litigants. In partnership with the Administrative Office of the Courts, the center worked with a student to profile a sample set of self-help resources available in Georgia courts.
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