Indigenous Access to Civil Justice – Global Conference

The Indigenous Access to Civil Justice Global Conference seeks to collectively identify and broadly mobilize what access to civil justice means for Indigenous people in postcolonial and settler colonial settings. Bringing together diverse scholars from across the globe, this conference will constructively unsettle conventional legal approaches to civil justice; build community; and enrich emergent access to justice innovations across jurisdictions and geographies. Presentation proposals are being accepted until October 14, 2022.

Who can apply?

Researchers, in or beyond the academy, whose work explores the interface between Indigenous experiences, identities, laws, and/or courts and access to civil justice. We welcome proposals on these or other related themes:

  • Conceptualizations of access and justice in Indigenous legal systems
  • Cross-jurisdictional access to justice challenges and collaborative possibilities
  • Tribal sovereignty and access to justice
  • The role of community paralegals, tribal lay advocates, and other non-lawyer actors
  • Place and spatial justice, including housing, climate change, and land/property rights
  • The health and wellbeing impacts of justice gaps in Indigenous communities
  • Evidence-based practices
  • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and family law
  • Tribal, customary and peacemaking courts, restorative justice, and other justice forums
  • Indigenous research methodologies and access to justice
  • Responsible data, technology, and information exchange
  • Implementing and evaluating Indigenous access to justice initiatives in tribal and non-tribal court settings

Research exploring these topics from any jurisdiction and geography is welcome, as is comparative research.

How do I apply to participate?

Submit a one-page proposal describing your project.  This proposal should make clear:

  1. Your research question
  2. An overview of the data you will use or have access to
  3. The relationship of the project to the goals of the conference

Proposals should be submitted to indigenousa2jconf@gmail.com. Individuals will be notified by November 16, 2022 if their submission has been accepted.

Is there a registration fee?

There is no registration fee for the conference. Limited travel scholarships will be available and will be prioritized for participants who would not otherwise be able to attend.

Organizing Team

The conference is organized by Matthew Burnett (American Bar Foundation), Lisa Moore (Canadian Forum on Civil Justice), Rebecca Sandefur (Chickasaw Nation; Arizona State University and American Bar Foundation), and Michele Statz (University of Minnesota).

Questions? Email indigenousa2jconf@gmail.com.

To download a copy of the call for proposals, visit: https://ajrndotco.files.wordpress.com/2022/08/indigenous-access-to-civil-justice-cfp.pdf.

Access to Justice Week in Manitoba is October 24-28, 2022

Events for the third annual Access to Justice Week in Manitoba will run from October 24-28, 2022. The event will feature important conversations around access to justice in Manitoba and across Canada, including a presentation from Justice Canada representative, Susan McDonald on October 25 on People-Centered Data Collection. Access to Justice Week in Manitoba is being hosted jointly by the Manitoba Bar Association and the University of Manitoba.

For more information about Access to Justice Week, including the calendar of events, visit: https://lawsociety.mb.ca/access-to-justice-week-event-people-centred-data-collection-october-25-2022/.

Access to Justice Research Study Launched in Manitoba

The University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law and the Law Society of Manitoba have launched a study to learn about the legal service needs of Manitobans. The recently launched Access to Justice Research Study seeks to engage practising and non-practising lawyers and articling students for a short, confidential survey on Manitobans’ legal needs. Researchers hope that insights from the study will contribute to better alignment of policies and services with access to justice needs in Manitoba. The survey is estimated to take approximately 15 minutes to complete and it will remain open until Thursday, September 29.

This research is being spearheaded by Professor Gerard Kennedy (University of Manitoba Faculty of Law) and Natasha Brown (Manitoba’s Access to Justice Coordinator ). To read the news release about this study or to take the survey, visit: https://lawsociety.mb.ca/university-of-manitoba-joint-access-to-justice-research-study/.

Justice Department Publishes Report on Indigenous and Restorative Justice Approaches

A new report published by the Justice Department of Canada provides details on a panel discussion held in February 2022 on Indigenous and Restorative Justice Approaches. The panel discussion that informed the recently published Indigenous and Restorative Justice Approaches report was designed to help set the stage for the National Restorative Collaborative Learning Conference, taking place in October 2022. Key discussion themes at the February panel included: the need for greater awareness of concepts and terminology on Indigenous and restorative justice (Indigenous Justice, Customary laws, Restorative Justice, etc.); understanding the meaning of “justice”; and, more broadly, the need for more education and awareness among lawyers and legal professionals of how to be an ally to Indigenous peoples, the differences among and within First Nations, Inuit, Métis communities and cultures, among other, related topics.

The Justice Department’s report on Indigenous and Restorative Justice Approaches is available in English here: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/irja-afajr/index.html.

Le rapport de la table ronde : Approches fondées sur les Autochtones et la justice réparatrice est disponible en français ici : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/pr-rp/jr/afajr-irja/index.html.

New Reports Offer Guidance on Reporting and Prosecution of Sexual Assault on PEI

RISE, a community legal information organization that offers support for victims of sexual and intimate partner violence and workplace sexual harassment, has published a series of reports aimed at offering guidance to victims of sexual assault on PEI who are over the age of 18. “Reporting Sexual Assault: A Guide for Victims on PEI” offers information on where to access support services and the types of supports that are available, what constitutes sexual assault and consent, sexual assault evidence kits, among other important information.  The “Sexual Assault Prosecution: A Guide for Victims on PEI” report discusses prosecution of sexual assault and offers an overview of the process, the parties involved,  and addresses questions that might arise for persons going through the process.

“Reporting Sexual Assault: A Guide for Victims on PEI” and “Sexual Assault Prosecution: A Guide for Victims on PEI” are available on the RISE website in French and English here: https://www.risepei.com/en/downloads. The publications are not a substitute for guidance from a lawyer.

Law Commission of Ontario Publishes Major Report on Accountable AI

The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has released a third major report examining artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making (ADM) in the Canadian justice system. 

“Accountable AI” analyzes AI and ADM systems used to assist government decision-making, and considers issues of legal accountability when these systems are applied in decision-making in the civil and administrative justice systems.

Key questions explored in the report include:

  • Why and how governments are using AI
  • How AI changes government decision-making
  • The elements of AI regulation
  • How to fulfill the promise of “Trustworthy AI”
  • How to adapt human rights and administrative law to government AI decision-making
  • Ensuring public engagement
  • Improving access to justice

The LCO’s “Accountable AI” report identifies 19 recommendations to address bias in AI systems, “black-box” decision-making, due process, and the need for public engagement.

The final report is available online here: https://www.lco-cdo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/LCO-Accountable_AI_Final_Report.pdf.

For the LCO’s other reports on AI, ADM and the justice system, visit the LCO website here: https://www.lco-cdo.org/en/our-current-projects/ai-adm-and-the-justice-system/.

New Report Examines Pathways to Justice in British Columbia

The Access to Justice Centre for Excellence at the University of Victoria (UVic ACE) has published new research that examines the pathways that people in British Columbia take to solve their civil justice problems. Understanding what people do when they experience a serious civil justice problem and the pathways that are accessible to them to resolve those problems offers important insights into people’s legal awareness and the impact of public legal education and information for the public. It also provides understandings on how people engage with the justice system. In addition, the increased use of technology in the legal sector is transforming how people interact with the legal system and requires further study to understand the impacts for existing pathways and the new pathways that will become available.

The “Navigating Access to Justice Pathways” report includes findings from an exploratory study of experiences with civil and family law problems in British Columbia that aims to:

  • Develop a more robust understanding of how people define the civil and family law justice problems they experience
  • Map common pathways used to resolve civil and family justice problems
  • Identify the barriers people face when they try to access certain pathways and the impact of those barriers on their decisions
  • Understand how people prioritize and manage multiple legal problems

Navigating Access to Justice Pathways: Problem Resolution Routes for People Experiencing Civil and Family Law Problems in British Columbia by Yvon Dandurand, Jessica Jahn, Cathy Tait, and Megan Capp is available online here: https://ajrndotco.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/5876c-navigatingaccesstojusticepathways_ace_april20_2022.pdf.

Study on the Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone Makes Important Recommendations for Scaling Up Community Justice Services

On average, it costs users of local, paralegal services in Sierra Leone US $8.44 to access the service, far below what it costs to access the formal justice system. According to a new report on the Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone, without these community-based justice services, the government would spend approximately US $23.3M to support access to justice services through the formal justice system. This compares with approximately US $18.3M to access community-based justice services. This is among several important findings from a first-of-its-kind study by the Center for Alternative Policy Research & Innovation on The Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone.

The report makes 10 recommendations for scaling up paralegal-based justice services, including:

  • Establishing a National Legal Empowerment Fund;
  • Funding exploratory research;
  • Further reducing out-of-pocket costs to access community-based justice services;
  • Meaningfully integrating community-based justice services in the broader justice sector; and
  • Building robust and efficient monitoring and evaluation systems.

The Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone by Felix Marco Conteh, Yakama Manty Jones, Sonkita Conteh, Henry Mbawa and Aisha Fofana Ibrahim (CAPRI) is available online here: https://www.caprisl.org/post/the-costs-and-benefits-of-community-based-justice-in-sierra-leone.

This project was funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and is one of the final research outputs from a multi-country research initiative on Community-Based Justice Research.

Justice Canada Publishes Call for Projects under the Canadian Family Justice Fund

The Department of Justice of Canada has released a call for projects under the Canadian Family Justice Fund (CFJF). The CFJF “facilitates access to the family justice system for families experiencing separation and divorce through the provision of various services, programs and information resources”.

Project proposals are being sought that focus on the following priority areas:

  • Supporting the well-being of family members
  • Reaching diverse and underserved populations
  • Supporting alternatives to court
  • Improving and streamlining family justice system links/processes  

Individuals, non-profit organizations and non-profit professional organizations, societies or associations, educational institutions, and private sector organizations sponsoring non-profit projects in partnership with federal, provincial, or territorial governments are invited to apply. Information on the Canadian Family Justice Fund is available in English at https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fund-fina/famil/index.html et en français à : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/fina-fund/famil/index.html.

Legal Services Corporation Publishes 2022 Justice Gap Report

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has published new insights on unmet legal needs among low-income earners in the U.S. “The Justice Gap: The Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans”, published in April 2022 is the fourth comprehensive report by the LSC examining the civil legal needs and access to justice challenges of low-income earners in the U.S. The report includes data from a survey of 5,000 households, which reveals that 92% of low-income earners in the U.S. did not receive any or adequate legal help to address their civil legal problems. This compares with 86% of low-income earners who did not receive any or enough help for civil legal problems in the 2017 Justice Gap report. The report also includes insights related to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the legal needs and experiences of Americans.

The Justice Gap: The Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans is published on the LSC website here: https://justicegap.lsc.gov/the-report/.