New self-help center to navigate court system

People representing themselves in non-criminal court proceedings in the 6th Judicial District in Archuleta, La Plata and San Juan counties can now turn to a court house Self-help Center for help navigating the court system.

The center is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s located on the first floor of the La Plata County Courthouse at 1060 E. Second Avenue in Durango.

A part-time staff person is available to help self-represented parties who walk in with procedural information, offer assistance in locating and filling out court forms, and provide information about the legal process or alternative dispute resolution procedures.

Plans call for the Self-help Center to be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. by August 2013. The staffer can provide legal information designed to help you understand how to resolve your issue, even though they can’t represent you in court or provide legal advice like an attorney.

For example if a person needs to domesticate a tribal court order in state district court, someone is available to help you fill out the correct forms. There is no charge for these services.

The center is part of a broader program the Colorado Judicial Branch has created to help the courts address the ever-growing number of cases in which people forego representation by attorneys. For example, in 63 percent of Colorado divorce cases today, neither party has a lawyer.

“Many people involved in civil matters in Colorado’s courts don’t qualify for help from Colorado Legal Services, but don’t earn enough income to hire private attorneys,” said Michelle Sylvain, self-represented litigant coordinator for the 6th Judicial District. “We can help fill that gap and broaden access to the justice system. We want to be able to serve the people in our courthouse so that they can understand and use our legal forms in their cases.”

Like it? Share it!