Jim Greiner at Harvard (the prof who did the randomized studies in Massachusetts) is trying to find samples of courts who attach notices or flyers to summonses or other early-in-the-litigation-type papers that say something to the effect of, “If you think you might need legal help and cannot afford an attorney, call _______” or “contact __________” or “go to this website: _______.”
The idea is to try to persuade other courts around the country to include these notices or flyers or whatever to try to direct people to the right place.
Could anyone who knows of a court that does this sort of thing email Jim at jgreiner(at)law.harvard.edu? If you happened to have a copy of the notice the court sends out and can attach it to the email, all the better! Thanks!
The best practice on this, is to require that the notice of summons and complaint include information on how to access legal services, particularly for summary proceedings, where the time frame to answer is less than 30 days (for example, eviction defense, which in some states is 5 days). In Northern CA, in the Bay Area, all of the courts a) block the filings of eviciton actions for 60 days–to avoid scammers from pulling all the recent filings and then scaring people into a scam and b) attach a letter that tells people that they have 5 days to answer, and b) give those served the list for their county LSC provider (in the Bay Area, Bay Area Legal Aid). Bay Legal has a hotline–and so a 1800 number is giving to those 7 counties the program serves–so that people can get counsel or advice or infomration referrals w/focus on preventing foreclosure. In San Francisco, all the legal services providers have agreed that all eviction defendants will go to the Eviction Defense Collaborative, which does all the answers or prelimanry motions (prior to answer, like demurrer) and then the person is referred to the best provider for their type of case (in other word the EDC pre-screens before sending people to legal aid, pro bono, or selp centers, etc). In the eviction defense realm, the EDC model in San Francisco is a great model to emulate, particularly for areas where there is rent control, so when a tenant looses an appartment, they basically loose the ability to live in the county/city. http://www.evictiondefense.org/. I think that all courts should be providing referrals to the statewide websites for small claims, family law, etc. and hopefully most statewide websites are adding referrals information for self help centers and also online responsive pleadings for the most common types of actions.
Several of our largest counties in Wisconsin require lenders to attach specific forms with this sort of information for foreclosure complaints but I don’t think that it is being done generally. I will send the info to Greiner.