June 25, 2018
Dear Justice Corner:
I want to do something to better serve SRLs in my court. Do you have any ideas?
Dear Judge Newproject:
There are a lot of different ways to help SRLs. You can design or adopt a project that works best for your court. Here are a handful of projects that are currently being done across the state:
- McHenry County started an early resolution program for divorces where both sides are unrepresented. Within 1-2 months of the parties filing their case, they are invited to a special court call to finalize their divorce that afternoon. Judge Michael Sullivan, Judge Cowlin, and all of the family law judges were instrumental in getting this project going and running successfully.
- Judge Archambeault in Will County, Judge Sexton in DuPage County, and Judge Caryell in Macon County all have "pro se days" or special court calls for cases where both sides are unrepresented. Every call is handled a little differently, from using pro bono lawyers to help facilitate settlement between the parties to scheduling the cases based on topic to streamline instructions and information provided on that call.
- Judge Weber in Jefferson County helped coordinate an expungement summit to help unrepresented litigants expunge or seal their criminal records with the court as well as have access to community services like employment opportunities, the Secretary of State, and other social service providers.
The Access to Justice Commission and AOIC Civil Justice Division can help judges and court personnel identify current programs that might be replicable in your area. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with requests for additional information. You can also email your questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, or stories about self-represented litigants.
-Justice Corner, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice Court Guidance and Training Committee
- Chief Judge Michael J. Sullivan, McHenry County
- Presiding Judge Clarence M. Darrow, Rock Island County
- Presiding Judge Sharon M. Sullivan, Cook County
- Chief Judge Kevin P. Fitzgerald, McLean County
- Judge Jo Beth Weber, Jefferson County
- David Holtermann, Lawyers' Trust Fund, Chicago
- Joseph Dailing, Legal Aid Consultant, Rockford