The former director for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice will speak about injustice under the law during Georgia State University College of Law’s 59th Henry J. Miller Distinguished Lecture Series at noon Thursday, March 2, at the university’s Student Center East Floor Ballroom.
Lisa Foster, director of the Office for Access to Justice from October 2014 to January 2017, will discuss the
perpetuation and criminalization of poverty through the courts. Her presentation will examine legal practices that deny those with limited financial means equal access to justice, including the excessive imposition and unconstitutional enforcement of fines and fees, money bail and the lack of legal representation in both criminal and civil cases.
The Henry J. Miller Distinguished Lecture Series is supported by the Charles Loridans Foundation Inc. and named for Henry J. Miller, a partner in the law firm of Alston & Bird for more than 50 years. Miller’s legacy continues to live in his role as mentor to generations of Atlanta’s professional community. It is an invitation only event. The deadline to R.S.V.P. for the lecture was Feb. 2.
“Because of an array of harmful and often unconstitutional policies and practices, we now not only have a price tag on justice, we have a justice system that exacerbates and criminalizes poverty,” Foster said. “As a consequence, many Americans, particularly low-income people and people of color, have lost faith and confidence in our courts.”
Foster will identify the origins of these injustices and discuss solutions to fighting them.
“We are thrilled that Lisa Foster will deliver the Miller Lecture this spring,” said Lauren Sudeall Lucas, professor of law and faculty director of the Center for Access to Justice. “The Office for Access to Justice has done phenomenal work under her leadership and, like the new Center for Access to Justice here at Georgia State, has bridged the divide between the civil and criminal justice systems.”
The Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice was established in 2010. Its mission is to deliver outcomes that are fair and accessible to everyone, regardless of wealth or status.
“In its short existence, the Office has dramatically increased the federal government’s role in pushing back against unconstitutional criminal justice practices and been an invaluable help to practitioners working on these issues across the country,” Lucas said.
Prior to her role as director, Foster served as a California Superior Court Judge in San Diego and presided over criminal, civil and family law departments. She was the presiding judge of the San Diego Court’s Appellate Division, the assistant presiding judge of the Family Division, and served as a member of the Judicial Council Appellate Advisory Committee.
She began her legal career as a staff attorney at the Center for Law in Public Interest in Los Angeles and later joined the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. She also represented whistleblowers under the federal and California False Claims Acts as the Executive Director of California Common Cause and Of Counsel to the law firm of Phillips & Cohen. Foster has taught courses on sex discrimination, federal courts and election law as an adjunct profess at the University Of San Diego School Of Law. She received a B.A. with distinction in American Studies from Stanford University and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School.
“Ms. Foster’s talk could hardly be more timely, given the current state of our criminal justice system, the current moment of political transition, and its delivery during the Center’s first year,” Lucas said. “Through the center, we hope to bring increased attention many of the issues Ms. Foster will likely discuss, and to create a vehicle for continued work on improving access to justice in the South.”