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Public library initiative to help serve needs of self-represented litigants

Madison, Wisconsin - September 21, 2007

On September 27 in Neillsville, the Wisconsin Court System and the Wisconsin Valley Library Service will co-sponsor a special training session for librarians who provide assistance to people who represent themselves in court.

The project’s goal is to foster communication between local courts and public libraries in an effort to better meet the legal service needs of self-represented litigants.

Leading the initiative is the Ninth Judicial District, which consists of 12 north central Wisconsin counties, and the Wisconsin State Law Library, located in Madison. The Wisconsin Valley Library Service has generously agreed to co-sponsor and host the September 27 program, which is aimed at informing public library staff about the various court-related services and information currently available to assist self-represented litigants. Featured speakers are:

  • Hon. Gary Carlson, District Nine Acting Chief Judge;
  • Jane Colwin, State Law Librarian;
  • Susan Byrnes, Ninth Judicial District Court Administrator;
  • Annette Barna, District Nine Pro Se Coordinator;
  • Joy Pecha, Langlade County Register in Probate;
  • Diane Sennholz, Marathon County Clerk of Circuit Court; and
  • Ann Zimmerman, Wisconsin Court System’s State Pro Se Coordinator.

In addition to these group presentations, the project has a second component in which Ninth District Registers in Probate and Clerks of Circuit Court will be making personal follow-up visits to each public library in their respective counties in order to foster personal working relationships and to provide further information about circuit court resources.

This project is the latest in a series of steps the court system has taken to improve access to the courts for people who are representing themselves, and it is hoped that the program can be replicated around the state to reach as many public librarians as possible. The program was first launched in the Tenth Judicial District (which covers 14 counties in northwest Wisconsin) in April of this year.

"The Wisconsin Court System and public libraries have a strong, mutual interest in helping citizens access current and reliable legal information. It has been our goal to improve access to the courts for citizens who choose, for whatever reason, to come to court without the assistance of an attorney. Doing so improves public trust and confidence in the legal system," said Ninth Judicial District Acting Chief Judge Gary Carlson.

For more information contact:
Ann Zimmerman
State Pro Se Coordinator
(608) 261-8297

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