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New report highlights services for people who come to Maryland’s courts without an attorney
ANNAPOLIS, MD – A new report released today outlines the services provided by the Maryland Judiciary to help people navigate the state’s courts. The report, Resources for Self-Represented Litigants in the Maryland Courts, provides information about the Judiciary’s robust network of diverse, integrated self-help services.
A growing number of people are not represented by counsel when they appear in Maryland courts. In the majority of civil cases in the District Court of Maryland, at least one party, and often both parties, are not represented by an attorney. In fiscal year 2017, 80 percent of family law cases heard in the circuit courts around the state included at least one unrepresented person.
The Judiciary’s self-help services include call-in, online, and walk-in self-help centers; law libraries; videos; webinars; online tools to help people find the legal forms they need; and Maryland Law Help, a smartphone app that brings resources together in one place.
These are some of the report’s highlights of fiscal year 2017:
- The District Court Self-Help Resource Centers assisted 13,383 unrepresented individuals with landlord-tenant matters, small claims, expungements and domestic violence cases.
- The Judiciary opened two new District Court Self-Help Resource Centers in Salisbury and Baltimore City, bringing the total number of District Court Self-Help Resource Centers in Maryland to four, with centers located also in Glen Burnie and Upper Marlboro.
- Family Law Self-Help Centers served 53,163 unrepresented individuals and operated in every jurisdiction statewide, with more than 76 percent of visitors reporting an annual income of less than $50,000.
- The Maryland Courts Self-Help Center assisted more than 55,000 unrepresented individuals remotely via phone, live chat, and email, which marked a 77 percent increase in demand over fiscal year 2016.
- Nine staffed law libraries, including the Maryland State Law Library, assisted 106,046 visitors with 53,519 questions, an average of more than 200 questions per day.
- The People’s Law Library, a legal information website managed by the Maryland State Law Library, added 18 new pages on a variety of legal topics and translated 95 pages into other languages.
- The Judiciary’s online library of videos for unrepresented litigants expanded to include 21 titles, including Expungement; The Foreclosure Process; Adult Guardianship; Should I Represent Myself?; and Hiring and Working with Your Lawyer.
The full report, Resources for Self-Represented Litigants in the Maryland Courts, which was compiled by the Judiciary’s Access to Justice Department in collaboration with the Department of Juvenile and Family Services, the Conference of Maryland Court Law Library Directors, and the Maryland State Law Library, also is available on the Judiciary’s website. The direct address is www.mdcourts.gov/publications/pdfs/fy17srlannualreport.pdf.
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