FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 2, 2012
Access to justice in Nebraska has become more of a reality for low income Nebraskans, with the publication of automated court pleadings on Legal Aid of Nebraska’s website.
Dave Pantos, Executive Director of Legal Aid explained “We wanted to give people the tools they need to represent themselves in basic civil legal matters where they cannot afford to hire an attorney. While having an attorney is the best option, that option is not available for thousands of Nebraskans.”
Legal Aid of Nebraska has partnered with the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Committee on Implementation of Pro Se Assistance Forms to create a “Virtual Self Help Center” on Legal Aid’s website. The forms include a divorce packet for families with both kids and no kids, and all of the required documents and instructions needed to take a divorce from start to finish.
“The whole process is much like online tax preparation programs,” said Pantos. “It asks you the questions, and when you are done you get to print out professional court pleadings. And you also get instructions on where to file them and what to do next.”
While there are many costly online services that produce legal pleadings, the Legal Aid/Supreme Court project pleadings are free for low-income Nebraskans. “And,” said Pantos, “our forms are designed by a committee of legal experts including judges, law professors and practicing attorneys.”
Funding for the development of these forms comes from a grant from the Legal Services Corporation-Technology Initiative Grant Program and the Nebraska Supreme Court.
In addition to the divorce packets, the Virtual Self Help Center includes Motions to Set Aside a Conviction, Motion for a Protection or Harassment Order, and Durable Power of Attorney.
For almost fifty years Legal Aid has been committed to providing justice, dignity, hope and self-sufficiency through quality civil legal aid for those who have nowhere else to turn. "We are always looking for ways to make our services more accessible to those in need," said Pantos.
The Center can be found at http://www.legalaidofnebraska.com/VirtualSHCL.