Guest Post: Another RCT Tackling Failure to Appear, Part I

Today’s guest post comes from two Harvard Ph.D. students in Public Policy and Economics, respectively, Helen Ho and Natalia Emmanuel. Helen and Natalia are affiliates of the Lab and have been working on their own randomized control trial (“RCT”) focused on failures to appear (“FTAs”) for arraignments. If you’ve been following our blog you might have read about FTA in connection to the Pre-Trial Release Study underway in Dane County, WI. Helen and Natalia’s study focuses specifically on interventions to reduce FTA. This post is a first in a two-part series describing their study.

Take it away, Helen and Natalia!


We Need Your Help with the Financial Distress Research Project!

Help the Financial Distress Research Project (FDRP) Over Its First Hurdle

by Marie Lawrence, A2J Lab Summer Research Associate

In case you missed it, the Financial Distress Research Project (FDRP) officially launched in early June! (Read our launch post here.) Over the past month, the A2J Lab has mailed more than 2,000 letters to people being sued in debt collection cases in Connecticut. Our letters recruit defendants into the study, which offers user-friendly self-help materials or direct representation in their small claims cases. After more than six years preparing to launch this large-scale effort, it’s gratifying to be finally on our way.

There’s only one hiccup: people aren’t enrolling.


Top 10 A2J Research Priorities: #4

Happy Monday! We’re back with our Top 10 A2J Research Priorities YouTube series. This time, Faculty Director Jim Greiner talks about the effectiveness of different service levels. As a reminder, we at the Lab have come up with a list of what we consider to be the top 10 access to justice research priorities. This list will be published weekly Read more about Top 10 A2J Research Priorities: #4[…]

Guest Post: Eviction in Arizona Part III, Profit in the Pleading

A2J Lab affiliate Daniel W. Bernal has previously introduced us to eviction in Arizona and his own research. This week he discusses how randomized research might inform new court rules.

Profit in the Pleading

The cover of the English language version of eviction self-help materials developed by A2J Lab Affiliate Daniel Bernal and his team.

If you are a tenant facing eviction in Arizona, it is likely that the pleading materials you receive were created by the landlord who is trying to evict you. This is a problem for tenants. Landlords—and their lawyers—have absolutely no incentive to make these materials understandable to the people experiencing eviction. If tenants don’t understand why they are being evicted or how they can defend themselves, then they might be likely to skip their court date. Doing so–defaulting–is a virtually automatic win for landlords and their attorneys, who can handle more cases and charge more competitive rates. Landlords can kick ‘em out quick and avoid costly litigation. […]

Correction: Top 10 A2J Research Priorities #3

*Last week we tried to reintroduce our Top 10 A2J Research priorities YouTube series, but unfortunately posted the second video again. Here is the correct video, where Faculty Director Jim Greiner talks about triage in the criminal context. It’s been a couple weeks since we’ve posted a Top 10 video, so as a reminder, we at Read more about Correction: Top 10 A2J Research Priorities #3[…]

Cartoon, legal self-help, courtroom, asserting rights

Financial Distress Research Project (FDRP) Launches!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Access to Justice Lab! In April we launched the Pre-Trial Release Study in Dane County, Wisconsin. A few weeks ago we launched Part 2 of the Debt Collection Default Study in multiple court locations in Massachusetts. We are now excited to officially announce the start of what could turn into the largest RCT ever conducted in the law: the Financial Distress Research Project (“FDRP”)!


Problem of Default Study Part 2 Launches!

And we’re off!

The Brooke Courthouse in downtown Boston.

Last week we launched Part 2 of the Debt Collection Default Study, kicking off with Boston Municipal Court (BMC) Central Division civil and small claims cases.

To set the scene: about 65-90% of people who are sued in debt collection proceedings across the country default, or lose their cases, because they don’t show up to court. At the BMC and many other courts in the Boston metro area, volunteer lawyers stand ready to assist defendants when they do show up. People might not show up for a variety of reasons. Maybe they think the debt is paid already. The plaintiff company might have the wrong person. The defendant is afraid of appearing in court. Or, she doesn’t know what’s expected of her from the Court Notice. Whatever the reason, access to justice surely suffers when half of the players don’t show up to the game.


Guest Post: Eviction in Arizona Part II, The Simpla Phi Solution

A couple weeks ago, A2J Lab affiliate Daniel Bernalintroduced some of the glaring gaps in access to justice that defendants in summary eviction proceedings experience in Arizona. This week, he dives a little deeper into his own fascinating research.

The Simpla Phi Solution

Five-years ago, Judge Dean Christoffel forged a partnership between the Pima County Superior Court, the University of Arizona, and the James E. Rogers College of Law with the explicit goal of making courts more accessible. This team took the name Simpla Phi Lex and primarily worked to revise pleading forms and create self-help materials for self-represented litigants.