Last year, the Conference of Chief Justices and COSCA passed a joint resolution urging consideration of alternative model langague for Rule 2.2 of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, with an expanded focus on the self-represented. The resolution also urged consideration of the development of state comment langauge.
The Self-Represented Litigation Network has now released this linked Memo, which reviews how several states have responded to this need, and suggests various approaches.
This memorandum, prepared by the Self-Represented Litigation Network, is offered to the states in support of the approach recommended in the second part of the Resolution.
It gives examples of language adopted by the states, provides some alternatives for consideration, and suggests ways that states might consider what language to develop and adopt. Appendices provide the full text of the CCJ/COSCA Resolution, the texts of already adopted state alternative language, options for access-facilitative steps not listed in that language, and a listing of resources.
Below, from the Memo, is the list of access-oriented steps already listed in various state codes:
- Construing pleadings to facilitate consideration of the issues raised (CO
- Providing brief information about the proceeding and evidentiary and foundational requirements (LA, OH, DC, CO, IA) See also ME (explain the requirements of applicable rules and statutes so that a person appearing before the judge understands the process to be employed.)
- Attempting to make legal concepts understandable (CO)
- Asking neutral questions to elicit or clarify information (LA, DC)
- Modifying the traditional order of taking evidence (OH, DC, CO, IA)
- Refraining from using legal jargon (LA, OH, DC, IA)
- Explaining the basis for a ruling (LA, OH, DC, CO, IA
- Making referrals to any resources available to assist the litigant in the preparation of the case (LA, OH, DC, CO, IA) . See also ME (inform[ing] unrepresented persons of free legal aid and similar assistance that is available in the courthouse or otherwise.)
The Network hopes that the Memo will be helpful to the states. It also welcomes suggestions and reports of developments.
Please help by spreading the Memo around.