Liman Public Interest Workshop

Poverty and the Courts:

Fines, Fees, Bail, and Collective Redress

Spring 2019 Syllabus

Mondays, 6:10-8 pm, Room 124



Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law - Office Hours: to be posted once class begins

Anna VanCleave, Director, Liman Center - Office Hours: to be posted once class begins

Ali Harrington, Senior Liman Fellow in Residence - Office Hours: to be posted once class begins

Student Directors

Faith Barksdale, Alexandra Eynon, Stephanie Garlock, Daniel Phillips


The Liman Center

Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law

Anna VanCleave, Director, Liman Center
Ali Harrington, Senior Liman Fellow in Residence

Laura Fernandez, Senior Liman Fellow in Residence

Jamelia Morgan, Senior Liman Fellow Affiliate, UConn School of Law

Elizabeth Keane, Liman Center Coordinator

This Workshop is focused on the resources of courts and their users and on the economic burdens stemming from involvement in the criminal and civil legal systems. Our plan is to examine when, why, and how courts and lawyers are conceived as “rights” and the implications in terms of public obligations to provide funding in polities understanding themselves as democratic. In the United States and elsewhere, constitutional and statutory commitments to access to courts and opportunities to enforce rights are challenged by the demand for civil legal services, high arrest and detention rates, declining government budgets, and shifting ideologies about the utility and desirability of using courts.

This class analyzes the fee structures of courts, the impact of private providers of court-based services, the impact of technology and of online filing and dispute resolution, and the role aggregation can play in creating economies of scale. At times our lens will be comparative, as we consider other jurisdictions’ views on the obligations to provide subsidies for civil and criminal litigants so as to protect rights to “justice” and to “effective judicial remedies.”  Throughout, we will look at how social and political movements and at how race, gender, ethnicity, and class affect our understandings of what constitutes fairness and justice in fashioning systems to respond to claims of injury.

Requirements, Credits, and Readings

We meet weekly from 6:10 pm to 8:00 pm. Preparation for and attendance at these discussions is required for credit.  All readings will be available on the Yale Law School Canvas website, In each class, we will indicate the readings that are required and those that are optional. Do note that, after the first week, we will explain in each class which materials are assigned. If you need to miss a class, please be in touch with the professors in advance of the meeting. The Workshop can be taken ungraded or for credit.  Whether taking the class for graded or ungraded credit, students missing more than two sessions without permission cannot receive credit.

 If choosing credit/fail, a student must submit written reflections four times during the semester after the first session. The reflections should comment on the assigned readings and the relationships among the materials. The reflections should be no more than two pages (double-spaced, size-12 font). The point is for other students and the instructors to be able to read comments in advance of the class, so that discussions can build from these exchanges. Students must email their reflections to the instructors and to Elizabeth Keane, the Liman Center Coordinator, and post their reflections on the Course Discussions page of Canvas NO LATER than Sunday at 1 p.m. before that week’s session.  Students who do not complete and send reflections four times during the semester cannot receive credit for the class.

In addition to the four reflection papers, students who wish to receive graded credit must write another essay of no more than 4,000 words during exam period.  That essay must respond to questions posted by the instructors at the beginning of exam period and is due no later than the end of exam period, May 15, 2019 before 5pm.  The essay questions will draw on the course materials and class discussions. NO additional research is to be done. 

A third option, with permission of the instructors, is to write a graded paper as either a Supervised Analytic Writing (SAW) or a Substantial Paper. Students seeking to do so must also complete the four reflections. A proposed topic needs to be submitted by the fifth week of the semester. (We will explain more in class about the content of the proposal; the concern is to be sure that the issues to be analyzed are clear and that materials are available to do the requisite research). Thereafter, students need to meet with the instructors to determine feasibility, to revise the proposal, and then to agree upon a research plan and schedule.

In addition, this class may be audited with permission of the instructors. Doing so requires regular attendance. Visitors, with permission, are also welcome.

Students with documented disabilities should contact the Yale University Resource Office on Disabilities by email to the director, Sarah Scott Chang (, to request accommodation for examinations or other course related needs. The Resource Office on Disabilities will work directly with the Registrar’s Office on accommodations.