NITA’s Virtual Town Hall on Access to Justice Following Presidential Memorandum
LOUISVILLE, Colo. — The National Institute for Trial Advocacy’s (NITA) held a virtual discussion of the delivery of legal representation for members of vulnerable groups in its National Town Hall on Access to Justice for the Vulnerable. The town hall was record on July 21st and is now available to watch on demand. It is free of charge to registrants.
In May, President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum to advance access to justice and the legal system to our society’s most vulnerable individuals. In response to this call for action, NITA has organized the 90-minute town hall in which Reuben Guttman, a whistleblower attorney with the D.C. firm of Guttman, Buschner, & Brooks, will moderate a panel composed of members of the judiciary, bar, and academy. The panel will discuss the aspirations and challenges in ensuring that every American, no matter their resources, can have their day in court, and with well-trained counsel at their side.
Among the panelists are Jo-Carol Nesset-Sale, who as a plaintiff saw her pregnancy discrimination case taken before the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark case decided in 1974, and Serena Nunn, who received a pardon from President Obama in 2016 after a controversial mandatory minimum sentencing in a drug crime in 1989. These experiences led each woman to become a lawyer and represent the voiceless and vulnerable.
“At a time when daily events remind us that equal access to justice is not a given for everyone, this national conversation will bring lawyers and jurists together with a goal of exposing needs and developing recommendations that will make our judicial system more accessible and just for all,” said NITA Executive Director Wendy McCormack.
Joseph Krakora (New Jersey State Office of the Public Defender), J.C. Lore (Rutgers Law School), Hon. Michael Noble (Missouri Judicial Circuit Court), Hon. Sam Sheldon (U.S. District & Bankruptcy Court), and Whitney Untiedt (Freidin Brown) round out the panel to bring their unique perspectives on how to level the playing field for all who find themselves on it. A live Q&A session will follow the presentation. The presentation will be recorded and available for on-demand viewing.
A small team of law students from Rutgers Law School, The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, and Penn State Law—Thomas Reilly and Anthony Sole of Rutgers Law, Rachel Romaniuk and Melissa Zeid of Arizona Law, and Nina Franco of Penn State—are producing a whitepaper based on the proceedings. “It is fitting that law students from Rutgers, Arizona, and Penn State will be using this national dialogue to draft a paper which outlines access to justice issue and solutions,” Guttman said. “Our dialogue is in some measure about setting the course for our judicial system over the next generation.” The whitepaper will be available on NITA’s website in August.
Untiedt, a trial attorney and member of NITA’s Board of Trustees, said, “It’s time to stop thinking about ‘access to justice’ in the abstract. Lawyers, judges, law professors, and students preparing to enter the practice need to understand the humanity of our system: each person who walks into the courtroom has a name, a life story, and a future that will be shaped by the decisions that will be made in that room. Until our system—along with those run it—is centered on the people it affects, it can never truly be just.”
The National Institute for Trial Advocacy is the world’s leader in advocacy skills training and publications. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Louisville, Colorado, NITA is a service organization made up of a volunteer network of lawyers, judges, and esteemed academics across the globe whose mission is to train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in the pursuit of justice. To learn more, visit nita.org, or call us at (303) 953.6828.