July 20, 2001

New Web Site Offers Free Legal Help to Millions of Californians

San Francisco — Free help is now available on the Internet for the estimate 4.3 million Californians who represent themselves in court each year.

The new California Courts Online Self-Help Center, the most comprehensive resource on California court information ever assembled, debuts on the official Web site of the California courts: www.courtinfo.ca.gov.

Over half of all Californians who find themselves in court do not have attorneys. For them, navigating the court system without any expert assistance can be a frustrating experience. While the new site doesn't encourage people to represent themselves in court, it offers step-by-step assistance to those who do.

The new online Self-Help Center offers:

Hundreds of tools, resources, and links for legal assistance in the areas most needed by self-represented litigants, including divorce, domestic violence, child custody/support, traffic, and small claims;

Easy-to-understand descriptions of court procedures;

Step-by-step guides for choosing and completing necessary court forms for various types of legal proceedings'

Links to legal services organizations and lawyer referral programs where litigants can get legal advice and additional assistance.

"Our new Web site will make the legal process more accessible to the many Californians who go to court without an attorney because of economic reasons," states Chief Justice Ronald M. George, chair of the Judicial Council. "Even those individuals who have an attorney can become more involved in their case and work more effectively with their chosen attorney. We know that informed litigants ensure a more just and efficient process for both the litigants and the courts."

The council is the governing body of the California court system and has made improved public access a top priority of the judicial branch. The council's staff agency, the Administrative Office of the Courts, maintains the online center.

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