This is great news.
The National Center for State Courts Board has just approved its Strategic Campaign for 2013-2016, and, under the title Solutions for Enhancing Access to Justice for All, it includes as one of its four key elements access to justice.
The issue is explained as follows:
If state courts are to remain viable they must over-come numerous challenges. None may be more important than providing access to courts for all citizens. Failure to solve this problem may relegate courts to a diminished role in our democracy. There are four aspects to this problem. First, current services for litigants with limited English proficiency are woefully inadequate. Second, courts must find ways to accommodate the growing number of self-represented litigants. Third, it is no longer just the poor who cannot afford lawyers. Most middle-income people find it difficult to hire a lawyer for anything other than a specific task. And fourth, under current court rules and procedures, the legal process for most civil litigants is too complex, lengthy, and expensive.
Moreover, the three identified objectives include rules simplification:
• Use “cloud” technology to provide remote court interpreters across the country and develop a process for state courts to cross-certify court interpreters.
• Help courts simplify and streamline their rules of civil procedure.
• Increase convenience for court users by developing models to allow appropriate transactions to be completed online.
This all represents a huge potential to help move the access agenda forward. In addition to the specific tools and services that NCSC will develop, it will surely be of use to access advocates at the state level to highlight the national priority being given to this issue.