Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Self-Represented Get Help in New York

Law librarians try to help the self-represented, but the complexity of the legal issues limit the amount of the assistance we can give during a reference transaction.
Some of questions that come to me at the Brooklyn Law Library strike me as issues that the courts should not be handling.

Yesterday’s NYT had an article about an African immigrant requiring months of assistance from a social worker to straighten out utilities’ billing errors.
I read the article, impressed by the Catholic Charities social worker’s dedication, but I also wondered why these companies were not finding and fixing their own errors. Why should a person have to go to court or appeal to a charity to straighten out billing errors? Companies should have better feedback on their systems. I cannot help but feel that this is an unjust burdening of the courts and charities by poor business models.

An example of New York Court’s providing assistance to self-represented litigants is the updated New York Civil Court web page and changed court procedures.

The Civil Court has had a surge in credit-card judgments and most cases were going into default. I have noticed a drop off in questions about credit cards companies. The Civil Court Web page provides an faq with defenses against a credit card case. Nothing in the library is as popularly written or coordinated with court procedures as this web page. Take a look at this page and its offerings. You will be impressed with the help it provides.

No comments: