The Delaware State Courts will be closed Thursday, November 23, 2017 and Friday, November 24, 2017 for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Only Justice of the Peace Courts 11 (New Castle County), 7 (Kent County), and 3 (Sussex County) will remain open.

Access to Justice Commission


Policing Survey

The Access to Justice policing attitudes survey is designed to give both law enforcement officers and all Delaware citizens a chance to provide their views on key issues relevant to effective policing in the state. Separate surveys have been sent to law enforcement to gather their views through their departments. The survey below has been designed to gather public feedback and the results will be used by the Access to Justice Commission to guide future efforts.

Members of the public are encouraged to participate. The survey involves about 40 multiple choice questions and takes about five minutes. All responses are anonymous. The survey is also available below in Spanish.

Press release: The Access to Justice Fairness Committee and police organizations launch joint survey

THE SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED.


Thank you for your interest and participation in this effort.

Access to Justice Civil Subcommittees Final Report


The Delaware Supreme Court created the Access to Justice Commission in 2014 “to identify the critical needs related to access to justice in Delaware and to develop realistic and cost effective solutions to meet those needs.” In order to accomplish that directive, three subcommittees focusing on civil justice were created:

  • The Subcommittee on the Efficient Delivery and Adequate Funding of Legal Services to the Poor (the Funding Subcommittee);
  • The Subcommittee on Judicial Branch Coordination in Helping Pro Se Litigants (the Pro Se Subcommittee); and
  • The Subcommittee on Promoting Greater Private Sector Representation of Underserved Litigants (the Pro Bono Subcommittee).
On Sept. 18, 2017 the three civil Subcommittees completed their work and below is their Final Report to the Delaware Supreme Court.

Access to Justice Civil Subcommittees Final Report

View/print report in sections:


Disparity Study


Following through on recommendations issued by criminal justice experts from Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Institute and the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice during a series of public hearings on criminal justice reform in the fall of 2015, the Delaware Access to Justice Commission’s Committee on Fairness in the Criminal Justice System on Sept. 23, 2016 released an independent study that looks into the issue of racial disparities in the Delaware criminal justice system

Press release: Study on the role of race in the Delaware criminal justice system

Report: Evaluating the Role of Race in Criminal Justice Adjudications in Delaware


Background


The Delaware Access to Justice Commission held its kickoff meeting on December 15, 2014 at the Arsht Hall University of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware. The Commission has been established by the Delaware Supreme Court to undertake the task of examining the justice system to identify any barriers to access to justice that may exist, and to develop recommendations designed to improve access to justice for the citizens of Delaware. To increase its accountability, the voting membership of the Commission are comprised entirely of private citizens — outstanding community and business leaders, lawyers and other professionals from across the state, who have the flexibility to make whatever policy recommendations they believe will be best for Delaware. The Commission is co-chaired by Gregory Brian Williams, Esquire, past President of the Delaware State Bar Association, and partner at Fox Rothschild, LLP, and Yvonne Takvorian Saville, Esquire, current President of the Delaware State Bar Association and partner at Weiss & Saville, P.A. Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr. and Justice Karen L. Valihura serve as the Commission's Supreme Court Liaisons.

The Commission, working through committees, will initially focus on four important access to justice needs in Delaware — the efficient delivery and adequate funding of legal services to the poor; Judicial Branch coordination in helping self-represented litigants; the need to increase the pool of legal advisors to help litigants of limited means by exploring roadblocks confronting those lawyers; and fairness in the adult criminal justice system. The Commission has been tasked with completing its initial work in two years, with various committees conducting research, holding public hearings and making recommendations throughout that time period. The Amended Order establishing the Access to Justice Commission and the Commission and subcommittee membership list can be found below.

Press Release: Delaware Access to Justice Commission Gets Underway

Amended Order establishing the Access to Justice Commission

Access to Justice Commission Members


Committee Membership Lists:
Efficient Delivery and Adequate Funding of Legal Services to the Poor
Judicial Branch Coordination in Helping Pro Se Litigants
Promoting Greater Private Sector Representation of Underserved Litigants
Fairness in the Criminal Justice System


Access to Justice Public Hearings


The Access to Justice Commission's Committee on Fairness in the Criminal Justice System conducted a series of public hearings between October 22, 2015 and December 9, 2015. The Committee, comprised of prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, community leaders and academics, examined the causes of racial disparity in the criminal justice system and proposed ways to reduce those disparities.

Experts from the University of Pennsylvania Law School's Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative, and the University of Delaware presented research on initiatives to reduce crime and increase racial equity.


Video Recordings of Informational Hearings


Video recording of October 22nd, 2015 — Alternatives to Incarceration informational hearing.
Please note, this file is large and make take a little time to download.

The Alternatives to Incarceration video begins with an introduction and welcome by Fairness Committee Co-chair Bartholomew J. Dalton, Esq. followed by a panel presentation on Alternatives to Incarceration that is chaired by the Fairness Committee's other Co-chair, Thomas J. Allingham II, Esq.

The featured speakers include Emily G. Owens, Ph.D. of the University of Pennsylvania and Ryan Becker, Esq. and Sia Sanneh, Esq. of the Equal Justice Initiative. Each presentation is followed by a question-and-answer session with members of the Fairness Committee panel and members of Access to Justice Commission. The program lasts about two hours.

Following are the reports that each of the experts submitted:



Video recording of October 22nd, 2015 — Root Causes informational hearing.
Please note, this file is large and make take a little time to download.

The Root Causes video begins with an brief introduction by Fairness Committee Co-chair Bartholomew J. Dalton, Esq. and comments by Panel Chair Dr. Yasser A. Payne, Ph.D. followed by a panel presentation on Root Causes of Racial Disparities.

The featured speakers include Emily G. Owens, Ph.D. of the University of Pennsylvania; Leland Ware, JD., University of Delaware; Janice L. Barlow, M.P.A., University of Delaware; Lana Harrison, Ph.D., University of Delaware; Steven W. Peuquet, Ph.D., University of Delaware; Yasser A. Payne, Ph.D., University of Delaware. A question-and-answer session is at the end of the program, following all the presentations. The program lasts about two hours.

Following are the reports that each of the experts submitted:



Video recording of November 13th, 2015 — Bail/Pre-Trial Detention informational hearing.
Please note, this file is large and make take a little time to download.

The Bail/Pre-Trail Detention video begins with a brief introduction by Fairness Committee Co-chair Bartholomew J. Dalton, Esq. and comments by Panel Chair Thomas A. Foley, Esq.

The featured speakers, who provide testimony and answer questions from members of the Fairness Committee panel, include: Ryan Becker, Esq. of the Equal Justice Initiative; Stephanos Bibas, Esq. of the University of Pennsylvania; John Clark of the Pretrial Justice Institute; Tony House of the Rick VanStory Resource Center; Beth Savitz of the Delaware Office of Defense Services, John Sebastian of the Delaware Department of Correction; Karen Sullivan of the Delaware Department of Justice and Kate Parker West of the SMART Pretrial Demonstration Initiative. The program lasts about two hours.



Video recording of November 13th, 2015 — Charging & Sentencing informational hearing.
Please note, this file is large and make take a little time to download.

The Charging & Sentencing Decisions video begins with a brief introduction by Fairness Committee Co-chair Bartholomew J. Dalton, Esq. and comments by Panel Chair and Delaware Superior Court Judge Ferris W. Wharton.

The featured speakers, who provide testimony and answer questions from members of the Fairness Committee panel, include: Alicia D'Addario Esq. of the Equal Justice Initiative; Stephanos Bibas, Esq. of the University of Pennsylvania and David S. Swayze, Esq. The program lasts about two hours.



Video recording of November 13th, 2015 — Policing Strategies informational hearing.
Please note, this file is large and make take a little time to download.

The Policing Strategies video begins with a brief introduction by Fairness Committee Co-chair Bartholomew J. Dalton, Esq. and comments by Panel Chair Colm. F. Connolly, Esq.

The featured speakers who provide testimony and answer questions from members of the Fairness Committee panel include: David Rudovsky of the University of Pennsylvania and Sia Sanneh, Esq. of the Equal Justice Initiative. The program lasts about two hours.


Related Initiatives and Resources


Chief Justice Strine participates in the Delaware Historical Society’s “The Conversation about ‘The Conversation’ about Race.”

Video Highlights now available.

Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr. participated in a panel discussion about the intersection of race and public policy at the Delaware Historical Society’s museum on Market Street in downtown Wilmington on March 24, 2016.