PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chief Judge Evans and Presiding Judge Laws announce opening of free legal self-help web center in Markham

Released On 01/23/2012

Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans and Sixth Municipal District Presiding Judge Marjorie C. Laws today announced the opening of a Self-Help Web Center for People Without Lawyers in the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Sixth Municipal District Courthouse in south suburban Markham, Illinois.

The Self-Help Web Center is located in the Cook County Law Library of the Sixth Municipal District courthouse (lower level) and will be available every day court is in session. Services include two computers with online access to helpful resources available on Illinois Legal Aid Online, http://www.illinoislegalaid.org/, and a hotline phone to Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS), the free legal aid telephone service that offers an immediate response to everyday legal problems confronting low income residents of Cook County. On Mondays and Fridays only, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, attorneys from the Legal Aid Society and volunteers will staff the center to provide additional support.

Chief Judge Evans praised Judge Laws for her work in chairing the Markham Self-Help Center Planning Committee that lead to its creation. He also thanked the Cook County Law Library, which provided the space, computers and phone line for the self-help web center and The Chicago Bar Foundation, Illinois Equal Justice Foundation and the Illinois Bar Foundation which all provided additional funding for the project.

"Judges are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people coming to court without lawyers, especially low-income and vulnerable people who have nowhere else to turn," said Chief Judge Evans. "Legal self-help centers—like the new Sixth Municipal District Self-Help Web Center—serve as a starting place for people to obtain free legal assistance through access to online legal information, instructional videos, and court-based and community-based legal resources and referrals.

A recent report sponsored by the Chicago Community Trust and the Chicago Bar Foundation found that more than 600,000 people have a need for legal aid services in Cook County each year and that there are only 300 full time staff attorneys to meet this need.

The Sixth Municipal District Self-Help Web Center will provide litigants with current information on Illinois law and court procedure, court forms, automated court documents, instructional videos and referrals to other court- and community-based legal advice resources to help make their court experience less intimidating and easier to navigate.

The Sixth Municipal District Self-Help Web Center is the result of a collaborative effort among the Circuit Court of Cook County, Cook County Law Library, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, South Suburban Bar Association, Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services, the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, Cabrini Green Legal Assistance, Illinois Legal Aid Online, The Chicago Bar Foundation and the Illinois Coalition for Equal Justice. Judge Marjorie Laws, Presiding Judge of the Sixth Municipal District, chaired the Markham Self-Help Center Planning Committee.

The opening was attended by David Moses, Chief Deputy Clerk, Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office; Dawn Porter, President, South Suburban Bar Association; Kendra Reinshagen, Executive Director, Legal Aid Society; and Montel Davenport, Acting Executive Law Librarian, Cook County Law Library

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