You can link directly to the 2011-2014 Oregon Judicial Branch Four Year Report or, if that link doesn’t work, visit the OJD homepage or the OJD Media Releases page and start searching. You’ll find lots of other interesting information, too.
Statistics on litigants without lawyers are staggering and deeply disturbing. People need lawyers. Navigating the legal system, the court system, and indeed, even just reading a contract you think you want to sign requires a level of legal literacy and analysis beyond what even the best legal researcher can acquire. People need the advice of lawyers. But that costs money.
Excerpt from the report:
“Healthy Courts Provide Resources for Self-Represented Litigants:
Statistics show that self-represented litigants don’t think they can afford an attorney, don’t believe they need an attorney for their particular case, do not obtain any advice from an attorney about their case, are likely to be low income, and may have language or cultural barriers. Guaranteed by law, the right to represent oneself in court is a citizen’s choice. The economic slump of recent years has forced more middle income litigants to represent themselves as well, increasing the need for courts to ensure that these individuals receive adequate access to justice. OJD’s efforts to prepare self-represented litigants for court include self-help resources and staff, public law libraries, statewide forms, and user-friendly technology. A nationwide average of 80% of family law cases will involve at least one, and often two, self-represented litigants. The manner in which judges handle these cases in court determines whether or not both parties will receive a fair hearing. Courtroom practices by judges and staff, such as shifting from legal terminology to plain language; explaining what will occur during the hearing and reviewing what the legal issues are; pointing out who has to the convince the judge and how strong the evidence has to be; and prompting the parties to provide information represent the court’s commitment to safeguarding
justice for the self-represented.
Oregon eCourt technology will upgrade OJD’s online processes and resources for self-represented litigants, including online interactive forms. A statewide forms project is in the works and will base a series of interactive online forms on Multnomah County Circuit Court’s current Family Abuse Prevention Act (FAPA) TurboCourt™ form for restraining orders. The interactive form program asks the applicant a series of questions, populating the form with the applicant’s answers, and results in a document to submit to the court that complies with applicable rules without the need for court staff assistance in filling out the form….” [Link to full report.]