From the Judicial Council of Georgia
The committees initiative began in June, 1997, to insure
that all persons have meaningful access to Georgia courts. Their vision was to
find ways to most effectively make information available to potential litigants
by providing access to case and statutory law and general information about the
type of relief that is available through the courts; to provide and promote
alternative methods of dispute resolution; to provide information as to why
legal representation is important; to compare the costs of services; to help
direct and obtain free legal services or reduced fee arrangements and for
persons who wish to proceed with self representation, information regarding
procedural aspects of the judicial process, from filing to presentation of the
case in court. Judge H. Gibbs Flanders, Jr., Chairperson, William E. Cannon,
Jr., Judge G. Bryant Culpepper, et.al.
Court Forms with Instructions
Instructional Pamphlets, Brochures, and Videos
These service centers could provide access to
standardized forms with detailed instructions for certain types of actions.
In this instance, the self-service center would not have to provide legal
advice, but could simply provide directions as to the forms available.
The center could also provide at list of attorneys identifying their
specialty, standardized information to assist persons desiring to confer with an
attorney, and sometimes fee listings for specific more routine case types.
Information concerning mediation services and outside social service
agencies is frequently available at the center.
Self-Service Centers With Assistance
In addition to the above services, this service
could also provide on-site consultation of approximately fifteen minutes with an
attorney to identify issues, help perform an initial case evaluation, and answer
general questions. A fee could be
charged for this type of consultation or services could be provided by
volunteers from local bar associations.
A legal clinic is an efficient method of providing
assistance to persons because it allows for interaction between persons and
attorneys. Clinics could be staff
with either volunteers or students.
Pro Bono and Reduced Cost Legal Services
With the increase need for free legal services this
report found that it is important to go beyond legal services and develop newly
designed pro bono programs. The bar
associations could help to respond to this increased need by emphasizing the
importance of pro bono activity.
Legal Hot Lines, Integrated Telephone Referral
These services could be provided for free through
various legal services organizations.
Unified Family Courts
The unified family court has been viewed as
providing a more responsive and comprehensive forum to address family law issues
related by persons who frequently appear pro se.
The concept is that in a unified family court system one judge one social
service team will be able to more effectively and efficiently address the family
law, housing, employment and income maintenance issues which would otherwise be
addressed in separate courts and social service agencies.
9. Education and Research
Given the increase in number of pro se litigants it
is desirable that the judges and other court personnel become informed as to the
various strategies to effectively manage pro se issues.
For example, in a number of states, the Chief Justice has formed bodies
to study Access to Justice issues in a broad context with pro se litigant
concerns a component of the study. These
bodies have consisted of not only judiciary and bar but also representatives of
the legislative and executive branch, private businesses. law schools, private
foundations, and lay persons.