Client: The Monterey County (California) Superior Court

The Challenges: The Monterey Superior Court wanted to increase public awareness of its court processes and procedures, particularly for those civil cases where members of the public often represent themselves.

Californians often choose to handle legal matters themselves or must appear in Small Claims Court where lawyers are not permitted.  Whether or not a person is represented, court processes and procedures can be intimidating and confusing.  A lack of information and understanding of court procedures results in wasted time and mistakes and can deter people from pursuing their legal rights.

Our Approach

To determine their clients’ common information needs and identify low cost or self-help programs, we interviewed local nonprofit legal service providers, the local Bar Association and the District Attorney’s Office.  Court staff were consulted about services available at each court location and filing and other procedural requirements.  We reviewed public information currently used by courts in neighboring counties.  With this information and in consultation with court management we selected case types most important to the general public and wrote a series of public information brochures.

The Results

  • 40 concise, informative and readable brochures targeted specifically at important civil litigation topics including: Self Representation (in pro per), Landlord Tenant Law, Conservatorship and Guardianship, Small Claims, Juvenile Law, Family Law, Domestic Violence/Restraining Orders and Traffic Court, as well as the key steps and elements involved in each case type. 
  • Objective, consistent and accurate information for all parties to a dispute at all court locations.
  • Accurate and up to date information on low cost or free legal services available to underserved groups (e.g., low income, elderly, children and families). 
  • A readily available body of reader-friendly information that the Court has drawn on for its website.

Consultants: Kate Harrison and Hampton Smith

Please click here to review a sample brochure.

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