This Brief is the first of a series of Access Briefs, developed by the National Center for State Court’s new Center for Court Access to Justice for All.
The Brief, like those to follow, is a short summary of the particular topic within the access area. This one covers a range of self-help services, from self-help centers to Internet programs, and from phone help to caseflow innovation.
The Brief is carefully documented with specific examples and evaluative research, when available.
The brief are intended to assist courts and their partners assess the possibilities and advantages of such innovations.
To give a flavor, here is a quote from part of the Brief on Courthouse Desks or Offices:
This can be as simple as a staff or volunteer who greets court users and directs them to appropriate services and provides basic information. A more comprehensive self-help program involving a staff attorney and trained volunteers or staff can provide more in-depth resources in person, in printed format, or online. Review of completed forms and referrals to various outside service agencies for additional assistance, ideally based on a diagnostic protocol, can be a part of this model. More sophisticated programs may develop neutral ways of providing information to each litigant on what must next be done based on the specifics of the case file. If it is not possible to establish dedicated staffing, current staff such as court clerks can be trained to provide such services as part of their ongoing responsibilities. Providing such assistance can also serve to sensitize all staff to the needs of self-represented litigants more broadly.
Examples given for this section are from California, Connecticut and Minnesota.
As a consultant to the Center, let me add my thanks to them and to the funding Public Welfare Foundation for the opportunity to participate in this important project.
Please spread it around in your networks.