Self-represented, or pro se, litigants comprise over one quarter of the debtors filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California. In early 2011, the Court identified serving this population as one of its key strategic issues, focusing on ensuring proper access to justice for self-represented parties and measuring their impact on the Courtís resources. Since that time, we have embarked on a careful review of the Courtís approach to assisting self-represented parties, and expanded and implemented programs and systems to be more effective in this area.
The rise in the number of pro se filings over the past year, coupled with the complexity of successfully filing for bankruptcy, highlight the growing importance of providing assistance for self-represented parties. Therefore, the Court aims to assist those parties in obtaining free or low-cost legal representation, or provide tools that they can use to navigate effectively through the process without an attorney.
This report summarizes what we know about our self-represented litigants, and it identifies what happens to their cases in comparison to attorney-represented consumer cases. It then assesses current programs serving these litigants. As part of this assessment and the Courtís strategic planning, we have also clarified goals for addressing self-represented litigants.
Table of Contents (Download Report)
- What Do We Know About Self-Represented Parties in our Court?
- How Many Self-Represented Parties Are There?
- Measuring Success
- Language Barriers
- Bankruptcy Petition Preparers
- Income Levels
- Literacy Issues
- Self-Represented Creditors
- Court Resources and the Impact of Large Numbers of Self-Represented Litigants
- Debtor ID Program
- Current Programs and Services for the Self-Represented
- The Courtís Website
- Personal Assistance from Court Staff
- Easy to Understand Forms and Instructions
- Assistance from Volunteers and Nonprofit Organizations
- Honor Roll
- Recruitment and Training of Volunteers
- Funding Sources for Non-Court Services
- Current Projects ďUnder ConstructionĒ
- Pathfinder Electronic Filing Project
- Proof of Service
- Video Instruction
- Future Surveys
- Call Center/Internet Live Chat