New program offers legal assistance for self-represented litigators
A new program will give Grand County citizens that file, pursue or respond to legal cases without the assistance of a lawyer a new resource to help them navigate the legal process.
The Self-Represented Litigator Coordinator Program puts self-represented litigants in touch with a coordinator that can answer general questions about paperwork, resources and forms related to their case while education litigants on state statutes, rules, policies and procedures that may be applicable to their case.
Coordinators cannot provide litigants with legal advice.
“It’s kind of a nationwide trend that more and more people are representing themselves in court for a variety of reasons,” said Grand County Judge Nick Catanzarite. “One of which is lawyers are very expense and legal assistance can be very expensive.”
The self-represented litigator coordinator program is crucial to bridging the gap between self-represented litigants and the legal system, Catanzarite said.
“Meaningful access to the courts is fundamental to our democracy, and providing people these services kind of facilitates that if they can’t hire an attorney,” Catanzarite said.
The local Access to Justice Committee, a subsection of the Northwest Colorado Bar Association, started the program to provide legal resources to people involved in civil litigation who couldn’t otherwise afford it.
The local committee formed recently.
“There are local committees in a lot of the other districts around the state,” Catanzarite said. “It’s something that we’d been working on, and we’re pretty excited to form one in our jurisdiction, especially in Grand County, because there are a lot of people representing themselves in court.”
The program itself isn’t actually new – the 14th Judicial District has had a self-represented litigant coordinator program for more than a year, and before that, the district had a person available to give advice to people seeking information about laws or procedures that apply to their case, Catanzarite said.
Kristi Glawe is currently the self-represented litigant coordinator for Grand County. She’s available 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays in the Grand County Courthouse.
To make an appointment, call 970-725-3357.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-557-6010.
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