Access to Justice

Synopsis

Civil justice reform in the United States has failed to address the problems that self-represented litigants experience in their efforts to obtain access to the justice system. Although the great majority of cases filed by self-represented litigants are factually and legally uncomplicated, many of these litigants struggle to navigate through a procedurally complex court system. To address this major shortcoming, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) organized a partnership with IIT’s Institute of Design and Chicago-Kent College of Law to examine court processes and recommend modifications to eliminate or reduce procedural barriers to access for self-represented litigants.

Final Results

The project objectives were to identify major barriers self-represented litigants encounter; redesign court processes and systems to remove these barriers and provide better access to the justice system; and translate these new concepts into an Internet-based software prototype. The resulting system proposed solutions in five integrated areas: diagnosing the problem, communicating objectives with the court or the opposing party, planning and supporting dispute resolution or trial, create partnerships with third-party organizations, and providing feedback to the court to help it improve its services. The last solution area ties back into the first, creating a closed loop.

PDF report: access_to_justice_report

More information, including prototypes and trial implementations: http://a2j.kentlaw.edu/a2j/.


Students:
Anjali Kelkar
Benjamin Singer
Adrian Burstein
Bernd Kretschmer
Divya Singhal
Emily Ulrich
Ha Jeong Noh
Hans Kaspar Hugentobler
Holly Roeske
Jennifer Joos
Joerg Kriwath
Loren Gulak
Margaret Alrutz
Shawn Stokes
Shivani Kothari
Tairan Sun
Jun Lee

Instructor:
Charles L. Owen

Completion date: 01/06/2001