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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2010

Contact:   Kimberly Schmitt
512-320-0099, ext. 104 or kschmitt@teajf.org
First Texas Forum on Self-Represented Litigants and the Courts to be held April 8-9 in Dallas

 
AUSTIN, Texas —  A growing number of Texans appear in courtrooms across the state without the benefit of an attorney.   When these litigants cannot afford a lawyer or they are turned away from legal aid due to inadequate funding, they represent themselves – pro se – often to the peril of their case.   The self-represented litigant is often confused and frustrated by the lack of an adequate system to help them pursue access to justice and efficiency in the courts can suffer.    

The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Texas Access to Justice Foundation, along with several partners in the legal community, are hosting the first Texas Forum on Self-Represented Litigants and the Courts to develop strategies that will assist pro se litigants in navigating the court system so that they may protect their rights in court.  Examples of strategies used in other states that will be discussed include: court-based self-help centers, plain-language forms and instructions, and development of ethical guidelines for clerks and court staff.

The statewide forum will include nationally-known speakers in the field including Associate Justice Jess Dickinson of the Mississippi Supreme Court, and local and statewide leaders including Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill, Presiding Judge John D. Ovard of the First Administrative Region in Dallas, retired Chief Justice Linda Thomas, Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas, and moderator Judge Lora Livingston, of the 261st District Court, Travis County.

What:     Texas Forum on Self-Represented Litigants and the Courts

When:     April 8-9, 2010
              Thursday, April 8, from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m
               Friday, April 9, from 8:15 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
               A complete agenda is available at: http://www.texasatj.org/srlf

Where:    Belo Mansion, Belo Hall, first floor, 2101 Ross Ave., Dallas, TX     
 

Sponsored by:  Dallas Bar Foundation, Legal Services Corporation, Office of Court Administration, Texas Legal Services Center, Texas Access to Justice Commission, Texas Access to Justice Foundation, and Texas Bar Foundation
                                    

Media note:  At this time we have reached capacity for general attendance at the forum.  To cover this event for your media organization, please secure your attendance at the Forum by sending an email to Kimberly Schmitt at kschmitt@teajf.org or call 512-320-0099, ext. 104.  Interviews with panelists may be scheduled in advance or at the event.  

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The Texas Access to Justice Commission was created in 2001 by the Supreme Court of Texas to develop and implement policy initiatives designed to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. The Commission has created several initiatives to increase resources and awareness of legal aid. For more information, please visit www.TexasATJ.org.

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (www.teajf.org), created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the primary state-based funding source for the provision of civil legal aid in Texas. The organization is committed to the vision that all Texans will have equal access to justice, regardless of their income. The Foundation administers a variety of funding sources, which are earmarked to assist nonprofit organizations in providing legal aid to approximately 100,000 Texans each year.

 

 
   
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