Neutralizing Access to Justice: Criminal Defendants' Access to Justice in a Net Neutrality Information World
48 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2014 Last revised: 17 Jul 2019
Date Written: August 29, 2018
This Article examines net neutrality and its impact on criminal defendants’ ability to access the courts—and justice—through access to legal information. Research in the American legal system has moved largely online, and print resources are becoming increasingly expensive and, therefore, more scarce. The move to online legal research presents difficult issues in light of the recent demise of net neutrality: if meaningful and speedy access to the internet becomes dependent upon being able to afford an internet “fast lane,” internet users will be divided into the haves and the have nots, and criminal defendants will surely fall into the latter category, rendering their access to justice completely non-existent.
This Article will examine the legislation, regulations, and cases that brought net neutrality to the attention of the American public, and will examine how net neutrality and access to information are related, particularly in the criminal justice system. It will discuss Supreme Court cases that have impacted criminal defendants and the methods they use to seek the justice and access to the courts to which they are entitled, including the use of attorneys, libraries, and society. In detailing how the demise of net neutrality will directly harm the millions of Americans who are currently a part of—either themselves or as a family member or friend—the criminal justice system, suggestions will be made to ensure criminal defendants’ access to justice remains intact.
Keywords: net neutrality, prisoners' rights, access to justice, freedom of information, libraries
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