eFiling -“An approach in meeting needs of self represented litigants or pro se”

By | June 13, 2015

Very few attempts in the world are known about addressing the need of litigants or we can say that handful number of examples are available that have addressed the need of the litigants, the one who is in seek of legal assistance. In context of Texas it is not apart from the fact that the legal system is not perfect enough to meet the expectation of the litigants in terms of service and in some way and other in terms of justice as well. But is it wise enough complaining the system all alone and not working to solve the problems. It is not enough at all. Let’s try finding out the needs of litigants in general and also discuss has the introduction of eFiling addressed the needs till date?

Before we come along to the subject matter i.e. the need of litigants, it is important to know who are litigants. Litigants are parties suing or being sued in a lawsuit or otherwise calling upon judicial process to determine the outcome of suit. Simply litigants are the one who are in need of legal verdict regarding their dissatisfaction or discomfort. Litigants can be either represented by a lawyer or by themselves. Self represented litigants are generally termed as “pro se” in the US. It is important to understand that both suing party and sued party are litigants.

Litigants are people or parties suing sued in lawsuit. What are their needs or let’s say expectations from the governments or legal system of their place. It is obvious that the expectation is to have simple, easy and efficient access to the justice without any kind of discomfort and complex procedures beyond normal people’s understanding. But let us microscopically analyze and try to point out some needs of litigants especially pro se, the one who seek legal help without lawyers. Litigants represented by their lawyers are unaware of the legal procedures as all their legal processing are completely handled by professional lawyers but it is disaster for pro se to conduct legal processing all by themselves as per the standard of their legal system.

There is conflict existing in a judicial system between what pro se need and what are being provided. So, the system must be improvised to address the need of pro se and resolve their legal issues.

Generally people do not readily choose to be pro se. So, why do people seek legal assistance by themselves. Some of the reasons can be summed up as follows:

  • Lack of social resources.
  • Low income sources but some social resources.
  • Social barriers that interfere access ti justice like people with mental differences, language and cultural differences or regional differences.
  • Person previously represented but no longer represented due to some lengthy cases with no permanent solution.
  • Inability to find lawyer.
  • Small cases where representation is said not necessary.

There can be even more reasons for person to be pro se but the main deal here is what are their need and is there any mechanism in action that can meet their needs.

Some of the needs of pro se or self represented litigants can be pointed out as follows:

  • Simplified information concerning about legal rights and remedies in the language understandable.
  • Understandable procedural documents and file with the guidelines that can lead them to specific decision about what to do.
  • Easy availability of forms in preferred language.
  • Access to lawyers who provide them with legal advice as limited scope representation that they can afford.
  • For those pro se who are physically disable need physical access, interpreters if required and more intense preparation help for person with mental or language limitations.
  • Assistance in filing forms and preparation of respinsive pleadings.
  • Coaching in courtroom conduct and strategies.
  • Identification of cases that have stalled and appropriate prompt concerning next steps.
  • Assistance to accomplish each procedural steps.
  • For those who are unable to self represent because of complexity of case or their lack of personal capabilities need legal representation.

All above mentioned needs are some general ideas or expectation that pro se seeks when he/she forwards his/her pleadings or cases to the court. Considering these needs eFiling can surely address them all alone theoretically. But practically, to how much extent can eFiling service facilitate needy one depends on the services provided by the state or the eFiling service providers(EFSPs). Some of the top EFSPs like US Legal PRO are working devotedly to meet those needs and provide as much service in all possible way. Following are the points that explains how eFiling can address above mentioned needs of pro se:

  • As eFiling is online service it has link to legal service resources and other link to forms, statutes, procedural rules etc.
  • eFiling has facility to chat or telephone in need of any human clarification.
  • eFiling supports multiple language and allows for embedded text, video or audio help files.
  • eFiling has library containing blogs, articles and resources to aid their process and decisions.
  • eFiling can have limited scope representation added to lawyer referral services.
  • Being online and tech friendly it is accessible to people who are physically disable.
  • Encryption and multiple backup storage makes it secure and reliable means to document transmission.
  • Notice about payments, court hearing dates are easily provided.
  • eFiling provides current status and notifies through text message or e-mail.

eFiling is next generation system of justice with the ideal objective of revolutionize and digitize the court system and with some improvements and advancements in terms of technology, especially for pro se, it can be a great tool to bridge the gap between justice and people. So, eFiling has surely met all the expected needs of litigants and in near future it can provide better legal services that revolutionize the system of judicial practice and outrun the need of litigants.

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