This is long overdue, but I thought some of you might like to know that a list of ideas for how judges might respond to the increase in the numbers of self-represented, written by Judges Mark Juhas (of California), Maureen McKnight (of Oregon) and Associate Justice Laurie Zelon of the California Court of appeals, with myself, has now been posted on my website. It appears as part of an article that I wrote on Courts in the 21st Century, which was published in the Winter 2010 Judges Journal.
Here is the beginning of the list (Copyright ABA; full notice on article) — the 15 items are all explained in more detail in the article:
1. Have courtroom staff check in litigants and give them orientation materials.
2. If possible, have available staff review the file before the hearing to highlight the most relevant papers and issues. In any event, review the file on your own and make a quick list of the issues to be addressed.
3. Start the hearing with a quick summary of the case history and of the issues that will be addressed.
4. Explain at the beginning of the hearing that you may be asking questions and that this will not indicate any view on your part. It will merely mean that you need to get the information to decide the case.
I hope you find the list and elaborations useful, and would very much appreciate any thoughts on additional such judicial techniques, or any reactions to the 21st Century piece.