EDWARDSVILLE — Third Circuit Chief Judge David Hylla announced that five judges and an administrator from Madison County attended the Training on Self-Represented Litigants and Other Access to Justice Issues sponsored by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice held on Oct. 22.
“We are committed to improving understanding of the courtroom experience for those individuals who do not have attorneys,” Hylla said. “Our judges also participated in putting on portions of the conference because of Madison County’s existing programs that enhance access to justice.”
Conference presentations included language access challenges faced by the court system in addition to best practice recommendations for dealing with self-represented litigants. Judges attending the conference were Chief Judge Hylla, Circuit Judge Barb Crowder and Associate Judges Ben Beyers, Duane Bailey and Elizabeth Levy. Pro Bono Coordinator Betsy Mahoney, who also serves as the law librarian in Madison County, also attended the conference on behalf of the circuit.
Hylla is the chair of the Supreme Court Technology Committee and served as a facilitator for a group discussion on self-represented litigants. As chief judge, he will implement sharing the information from the conference with the judges not selected to attend.
Crowder spoke on Trends in Access to Justice on a panel discussion on pro bono initiatives. Crowder serves as the Chair of the Third Circuit Pro Bono Committee and oversees the court’s local programs. She also served as a group facilitator for the conference.
Beyers serves on a subcommittee of the Access to Justice Language committee. He is assigned to Family Division and will participate in improving the experience for the many self-represented individuals who go to family court. Beyers served as a facilitator for a small group discussion on self-represented litigants at the conference.
Bailey handles the small claims appearance docket and the landlord-tenant docket, both of which serve large numbers of self-represented people.
Levy handles the traffic and misdemeanor cases in Madison County and comes into contact with litigants with language access issues as well as those representing themselves. She also serves on the Court Committee of the Family Violence Prevention Council to help implement policies for domestic battery litigants.
Mahoney is the pro bono coordinator for the circuit and oversees the assignment of pro bono mediators and GALs for the Family Division in addition to serving as the law librarian. She schedules the free legal appointments offered to low-income individuals who do not have attorneys in the library on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month and assists with other programs for the Third Circuit Pro Bono Committee.
The Third Circuit has a self-help center in the lower level of the courthouse and the staff of the center helps self-represented litigants with obtaining forms through Illinois Legal Aid On-line. The circuit also places forms and other information for the public on its website at www.madisoncountycircuitcourt.org. Programs for self-represented litigants with limited incomes are provided by the Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono committee, including free legal advice appointments. The personnel who attended this conference will coordinate in improving existing programs and determining what additional services Madison County can provide for those attending court.