California's 5th District Court of Appeal launched a new online Appellate Self-Help Resource Center for self-represented litigants and lawyers who seek help with the appeals process.
"The appeals process is daunting and mysterious," said Brian Cotta, clerk/executive officer for the 5th District Court of Appeal. "As a solution and in close partnership with the other courts of appeal in California and the Judicial Council, we've created one, uniform website for self-represented litigants and attorneys."
Court users and attorneys who are unfamiliar with the appeals process can now visit the website to understand basic concepts of how courts of appeal operate, including how a case moves through a court of appeal, understanding which documents they need to complete and submit, and when to appeal or not to appeal a case. Through short videos and the interaction with a chat bot, court users can get answers to common questions.
While the 5th DCA covers nine counties in central California, the website is a resource for all Californians representing themselves at the appellate level.
"This resource will be extremely beneficial to self-represented litigants and attorneys who seek help with the appeals process," said Presiding Justice Brad Hill. "This is yet another example of how courts statewide are making efforts to expand access to justice."
By December 2019, self-represented litigants and attorneys who visit the website will have even more resources at their disposal, including access to a Spanish version of the website, the ability to complete documents electronically for submission, and create a unique user profile through and identity management system so that court users can save their partially completed forms and return at a later date to complete them, if necessary.
The new website builds upon resources available for self-represented litigants in California’s trial courts; last year, nearly 5 million unique users visited the California Courts self-help website.
The online Appellate Self-Help Resource Center was established through a grant funded by the Judicial Council Court Innovations Program. Since its launch date in March, more than 2,000 people have used the website. Of those, most were new visitors to the site.