Yesterday, when I blogged about the first good national sample data on numbers of self-represented cases, and particularly on those who face a lawyer alone, I promised additional more broken down data.
These numbers, taken from the same NCSC Landscape of Civil Litigation, of all civil cases in state courts except “domestic,” in a representative sample of all urban courts, are a powerful tool for identifying areas of greatest possible injustice.
Here is the chart showing the data by type of case (methodology is described in the prior post):
The numbers are as stunning at the case type level as they are when given overall.
In state court contract cases, 75% of defendants have no lawyers, and face a lawyer. 2% of plaintiffs are in that situation, 3% have no lawyers on either side, and 20% have lawyers on both sides. Small claims cases are hardly any better, with 63% facing a lawyer alone.
What kinds of cases are these really? The Landscape Report answers the question with this chart for those contract cases, drawn directly from the Report.
Silly me, after law school indoctrination, I really still thought that “contract” meant movers being sued for not delivering machine parts and cows turning out to be pregnant. Actually it is vulnerable people losing their homes or money they probably do not even have.
While we do not know from this data exactly where the “one side only represented” cases fit between the above categories, it really does not matter exactly, because the simple answer is “most of them.” Its not hard to draw conclusions for access to justice case type priorities.
Obviously, other factors play a major role in prioritization, see chart here, but this data should make a real difference to, and be integrated into any state strategic analysis.