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May 21st NACM Court Leader’s Advantage Podcast Episode

Although they are not universally accepted, court self-service centers can help prepare self-represented litigants to navigate the exotic terrain of the courtroom. They can also expedite court proceedings and weed out inappropriate arguments. Less obvious but equally as important, the information these centers provide helps boost the public’s trust and confidence in the courts. We well know that the public’s perception of courts has been woefully lagging over these last several years.

A basic tenet of self-service centers, in fact, a tenet of all public-facing court staff is “we cannot give legal advice.” Yet this prohibition is more nuanced than it first appears. There are a host of questions that seem more procedural than legal. Questions many self-represented litigants may not even know enough to ask about. How much should courts tell litigants? How much information should courts volunteer even if the litigants don’t know to ask? This month we’re going to look at what courts can, do, and should tell litigants.

This episode presents several situations which self-represented litigants often find themselves. These are situations that do not immediately appear to involve giving legal advice. Rather they seem, on their face, procedural. But they are obscure enough that only individuals who have been in the system might know their implications.

Today’s Panel:

Nathan Devries, Supervising Attorney with the Self-Help Services Unit of the Superior Court in San Bernardino, California,
Robby Southers, Managing Attorney for the Self-Help and Dispute Resolution Center, at the Franklin County Municipal Court in Columbus, Ohio,
Jena Elsnes, Program Manager, for the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s Self-Represented Litigant Program, and
Danielle Trujillo, Court Administrator for the Municipal Court in Littleton, Colorado

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Watch the Podcast

Leave a question or comment about the episode at clapodcast@nacmnet.org.