STATE–Headed to court? You may want to stop by your local library first.
The Judiciary has created a training program for librarians to help their patrons find legal information and court resources, Judge Glenn A. Grant, acting administrative director of the courts, announced today. A video about the program has been posted at youtube.com/njcourts.
“In this age of doing more with less, all government agencies seek partnerships that can more effectively serve the public,” said Judge Grant. “This partnership will allow library patrons to gain information and insight into court policies and procedures at their local libraries, so they can proceed with their case informed and prepared for court.”
Funded by a grant from the National Center for State Courts, the Judiciary offered free training to librarians on how to use the New Jersey Courts website and other legal websites to access legal information. Much of the information is aimed at litigants who represent themselves in court, who often turn to libraries for assistance with legal research.
Although the Judiciary recommends that people seek legal representation, it tries to help self-represented litigants by providing dozens of kits with forms and instructions that will enable them to file legally sufficient documents and follow basic court procedures.
“More and more people are going to court without a lawyer, because they cannot afford one, or they decide to handle the case on their own, or some other reason,” said Nancy Gramaglia, manager of litigant services, who has conducted four trainings so far. “Often, the first place they try is the library. Librarians are specialists who know how to connect people with information, so we are asking them to help us serve self-represented litigants by getting up to speed on what we can offer those litigants.”
In addition to online resources, the training highlighted several self-help centers located in courthouses around the state. It also emphasizes the role that the ombudsman in each court vicinage can play to help litigants navigate the courts.
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