Closing the access to justice gap is complex. To better understand the problems and solutions, check out the articles below.
America needs civil justice reform. Unleashing technology is the first step
Criminal justice reform gets all the attention. For years, red and blue states alike have enacted sweeping reforms to criminal laws and sentencing, and 2021 was no exception. Yet the civil justice system is also rife with injustice, and it hears far more cases than criminal courts.
JusticeDirect Demand Letter Launch Press Release
Quest for Justice (Q4J) announced today the launch of the first phase of JusticeDirect.com. The first platform feature, the JusticeDirect Demand Letter, focuses on helping people without lawyers, draft and send a personalized and detailed letter demanding payment, free of charge.
Tech-Enabled Legal Organization Increases Access to Justice
While legal aid organizations exist to provide legal advice and representation to low-income people, more than sixty (60%) percent of individuals who qualify are turned away by legal aid groups due to “the lack of adequate resources.” The resources are staff to provide legal information, legal advice, and legal representation. In other words, these organizations do not have enough staff, to aid a majority of those seeking their support.
The Need for a Pro Se Support System
Pro se litigants are people who represent themselves in court. While some pro se litigants may be getting legal advice from an attorney, most civil litigants are getting disjointed legal information piecemeal from non-attorney sources such as books, friends or family, court’s self-help centers, and online. Legal aid organizations and pro bono attorneys do provide legal advice, but their services are only available to a small percentage of consumers and most often are very limited in scope. No system or organization exists today to provide comprehensive support to pro se litigants.
Self-Represented Litigants Deserve a Level Playing Field
Research consistently shows that the vast majority of people do not have access to affordable legal services. This lack of availability has profound consequences for people seeking justice through the court system. While in a criminal proceeding you have a constitutional right to a lawyer, in a civil proceeding you do not. You are on your own to figure it out.
Justice Needs and Satisfaction in the United States of America
Each year, 1 billion people have a new justice problem. Shockingly, over 70% of those people do not find a satisfactory resolution. 30% don’t even feel sufficiently empowered to take action. This has a significant impact on their lives and on society: From violence to seriously damaged relationships and business conflicts.
Pro Se Support System Can Help Courts Increase Case Capacity
Courts across the country are facing an unprecedented case backlog created in large part by our response to the COVID pandemic. Some of the backlog is a result of court shutdowns causing hearings to be pushed into the future. And some of the backlog is new litigation that is a result of COVID-related financial stress. For example, the courts have been inundated with landlord-tenant disputes as the eviction moratorium ends.
Self-Represented Plaintiffs Face Challenges in Virtual Court
During the COVID-19 pandemic, courts kept the wheels of justice moving by adopting remote communication technology such as Zoom to hold virtual court. Some jurisdictions, such as California, have implemented legislation allowing the use of virtual court beyond the pandemic. While this sounds like a common-sense idea, the question we must ask ourselves is whether these virtual court settings will have a negative impact on self-represented litigants (pro se litigants). Further, if there are drawbacks, what can courts do to mitigate or overcome them.