Hot off the Press – West Virginia Approves ATJ Initiative!

CELEBRATE!           WOOHOO!

I just (4:44 p.m. EST) received an email from Jennifer Singletary, Special Counsel at the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia informing me that the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia approved Justice Brent Benjamin’s proposal to initiate an Access to Justice program in West Virginia.

Welcome Aboard West Virginia!

South Carolina is pleased and honored to recognize a fellow ATJ collaborator!

-RFW

SC Access to Justice Returns Home Wiser

Richard Zorza, self-represented litigant guru, and Stephanie Nye
Richard Zorza, self-represented litigant guru, and Stephanie Nye

The delegation from the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission returned to South Carolina yesterday from the Court Solutions Conference in Baltimore. The conference was informative and educational. The track pertaining to self-represented litigants offered 15 modules to choose from. The plenary sessions for self-represented litigants offered general information about each of the modules while allowing for an intensive focus on the specific. Many states offered information about initiatives and were willing to share ways to move forward to ensuring access to justice for all.

Desiree Allen, Stephanie Nye, Judge Deadra Jefferson, Judge Michael Baxley, Ellen Osborne
South Carolina Delegation: Desiree Allen, Stephanie Nye, Judge Deadra Jefferson, Judge Michael Baxley, Ellen Osborne

Each state was asked to briefly describe what they are proud of and what they want to learn from other states. The South Carolina state report was:

Judge Jefferson compares notes with Judge Lora Livingston out of Texas
Judge Jefferson compares notes with Judge Lora Livingston out of Texas
  • South Carolina is proud of: (1) completing public hearings where we identified problems faced by self-represented litigants; (2) completing initial judicial and clerk of court trainings where we featured the public hearing video from self-represented litigants describing their experiences; (3) providing ethical training to summary court and clerks of courts when working with self-represented litigants; and (3) completing and distributing the Bench Guide to summary court judges.
  • South Carolina wants to learn from others: (1) ways to build strong library partnerships; (2) ways to enhance partnerships and collaboration with other entities such as Legal Services, Community organizations, etc.; and (3) information about successful self-help centers.
Robin Wheeler interviews Judge Bell of Maryland

South Dakota: Endeavor to Educate Self-Represented Litigants

Interesting article while the South Carolina delegation attends the Court Solutions conference about self-represented litigants –http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080909/NEWS/809090323/1001.

As the South Carolina Delegation is learning, self-represented litigants are here to stay. During the conference this week, presenters from other states have advised and educated on ways to assist the rising number of self-represented litigants, appearing not only in the historical “peoples’ court” but also in higher courts including probate, family and circuit courts. Other states have described many actions to assist self-represented litigants in an effort to maintain reasonable efficiency as well as ensure that the documents prepared without an attorney meet minimal standards while at the same time adhering to ethical guidelines.

While many courts have described conflicts, detractors and other barriers, it is refreshing to see that they have perservered. Additionally, SC Access to Justice wishes only the best for the latest South Dakota endeavor.

-RFW