How does your state rate in supporting access to justice for those who face economic, language or physical barriers? A new website, The Justice Index, provides a state-by-state scorecard of resources and initiatives designed to ensure that everyone has equal access to the legal system.
The site was built by the National Center for Access to Justice at Cardozo Law School, with support from Pfizer Inc. and the Pfizer Legal Alliance of 15 law firms, as well as from Deloitte and MSDS. Research to compile the index was done by attorneys at Skadden Arps, Kirkland & Ellis and UBS and by students at Cardozo School of Law and University of Pennsylvania School of Law.
The Justice Index describes itself as “a snapshot of the degree to which best practices for ensuring access to the civil and criminal justice systems have been adopted across the country.” It scores states based on four components:
- Number of civil legal aid lawyers for every 10,000 people in poverty within a state.
- Systems in place to support self represented parties in state courts.
- Systems in place to support people with limited proficiency in English in state courts.
- Systems in place to support people with disabilities in state courts.
Using a 100-point scale, the site provides a composite index based on all four components as well as scores for each one separately. In the composite index, Minnesota ranks highest, with a score of 69.4, while Oklahoma holds the lowest spot, with a 23.7 score.
The site uses powerful visualization tools to display the data. Produced by Deloitte’s financial analytics group, the visualizations lets users filter and view the data in various ways, including by category, region and state. The data visualizations can be downloaded and viewed on your desktop using the free Tableau Public software.
The data visualizations are presented over separate pages, one for the composite index and one for each of the four components. The individual component pages provide more specific details on the factors that were considered in creating the scores.
The site’s creators say that they plan to update the Index and examine trends over time. For now, it is a fascinating look at how well (or how poorly) states are doing at supporting access to justice.