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New pilot project to help serve the legal needs of people representing themselves in court

Madison, Wisconsin - April 5, 2007

The Wisconsin Court System is launching a pilot project on April 10 in Manitowish Waters and April 11 in Eau Claire to further assist people who are representing themselves in court proceedings. 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 Tenth Judicial District, which consists of 13 northwestern Wisconsin counties, and the State Law Library, located in Madison. The Indianhead Federated Library System and the Northern Waters Library Service have generously agreed to co-sponsor and host the April 10 and 11 programs, which are aimed at informing public library staff about the various court-related services and information currently available to assist self-represented litigants. Featured speakers are the Hon. Ed Vlack, St. Croix County Circuit Court, Ann Zimmerman, the Wisconsin Court System’s Pro Se Coordinator, Gregg Moore, Tenth Judicial District Court Administrator, Bob Hagness, the District Ten Coordinator for the Access to Justice project, Jean Gay, Eau Claire County Register in Probate, Karen Hepfler, Chippewa County Clerk of Circuit Court, and Jane Colwin, State Law Librarian.

In addition to these group presentations, the pilot project has a second component in which Tenth 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 related to available circuit court resources.

This pilot 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 in order to reach as many public librarians as possible. “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 Tenth Judicial District Chief Judge Benjamin Proctor.

For more information contact:
Tom Sheehan
Court Information Officer
(608) 261-6640

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