Whitesburg KY

Group addresses litigants who represent themselves

I am one of those who represent the citizens of our Commonwealth on the Kentucky Access to Justice Commission, the group chartered by the Kentucky Supreme Court to improve access to justice for people involved in civil cases. The Commission met September 12 and discussed several topics that may be of particular interest to those who represent themselves in civil cases (called “pro se” litigants).

1. First, the Legal Aid Society in Louisville secured grant funding with partners such as the Commission, local public libraries and other legal entities to provide public librarians across the state with training to help people who have to go to court without an attorney. The librarians can help direct you to resources (laws, cases, regulations, etc.) and how to use those resources as well as what programs may be available to help. (They cannot, however, give you legal advice.)

2. Grant funding has also been secured to develop live chats through the law school librarians. Those needing help will be able to call law librarians for direction on resources and referrals. Since that effort is in its infancy, it will be more than a year before the public will be able to take advantage of that.

3. In that same area, there was some discussion of trying to develop, and provide on the Internet, a central site that provides answers to frequently asked civil legal questions. Some scattered sites currently provide answers in specific areas, two of which are www.kyjustice.org and www.kycourts.net, but the hope is to make a single comprehensive site, or perhaps link sites. If that effort looks feasible, you will hear more.

4. The Kentucky Judiciary’s administrative office is undertaking an e-filing effort, that is, an effort to reduce paper filing and hand carrying for attorneys. That effort does not presently include the ability for those who represent themselves to file court documents from home or from public-access computers, but it eventually is intended to do so. One of the Commission members is staying abreast of the major effort while offering suggestions that may help when expanding electronic filing to individuals.

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5. The new President of the Kentucky Bar Association, William Johnson, who spoke to the Commission members during the meeting, expressed interest in seeing the Bar do more for those who are unable to get the justice they need.

The next meeting of the Commission tentatively will take place in January 2015. As always, if you have diffi- culty with access to the civil courts and/or have thoughts about how access could be improved, I would be glad to hear those thoughts and to take those which have general application to the Commission for consideration. Please remember the Commission addresses broad systemic issues and is not intended to address individual concerns. If you need help with your specific civil case, contact your local civil legal aid program. In most of easternKentucky, that is Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, www.ardfky.org, or 1-866- 277-5733. For the general issues, you can reach me by email (preferred) at ngcornett@aol.com or, if you do not have access to a computer or a library with one, at 606-633-9546.


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