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Delaware Docket Newsletter

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The Delaware Administrative Office of the Courts is expanding efforts to attract additional volunteer attorney participants to its Limited Pro Bono Legal Assistance Program. The Program, a joint effort with Delaware Volunteer Legal Services, is designed to assist self-represented litigants by providing a free 15 minute consultation with an attorney to obtain answers to specific legal questions concerning their Family Court civil case. These consultations provide pro se litigants with important information on key points of their case and advice on how to streamline the litigation process.

Many Courts have been overwhelmed by the tidal wave of pro se litigation in recent years. Family Court has not been spared. Court resources have been shaved in light of budget constraints, yet the number of case filings continues to increase. The consultations offer desperately needed insight and focus to unrepresented litigants which limits the impact on already taxed judicial resources. The representation is limited to the 15 minute consultation which allows attorney participants the opportunity to provide critical assistance to litigants for a minimal time commitment. Program volunteers can make a difference doing work that matters within the time constraints of their busy careers.

Volunteer attorney Curtis J. Crowther, who is new to the Program this year, wondered how helpful he would be as he had hardly any family law experience, but he learned most questions were very basic and that:

“It is quite easy to share a lot of knowledge and experience, in very short increments, while volunteering as a pro bono attorney in the Limited Pro Bono project.“

Many volunteers cite the satisfaction they obtain from being able to make a difference for those they assist. For example, according to frequent volunteer attorney Richard (Buzz) Hannum, “The regularity with which the users of the program express appreciation for the guidance provided is undisputed evidence of the value of the program. I continue to volunteer because there is no question in my mind that I am helping those who seek my guidance.”

The Limited Pro Bono Legal Assistance Program is fortunate to have attorney participants such as Curtis J. Crowther, Buzz Hannum, and others who generously volunteer their time to assist the growing number of pro se litigants. Program volunteer attorneys enable the program, which operates each Monday from 11 a.m until 1 p.m. in the Self Help Center of the New Castle County Courthouse, to serve over 250 individuals annually in the area of family law. The AOC also hopes, with support from members of the Bar, to expand the program beyond family law. Patricia Griffin, State Court Administrator, stated: “The attorneys who volunteer provide a critically needed service. We thank them all and hope others will join rank with our seasoned volunteers who are among the best attorneys in the area.”

For further information contact Karen Antonelli by
e-mail at Karen.Antonelli@state.de.us

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