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Delaware Docket Newsletter
Spring 2012


New interactive online tools are now available, free of charge, to help self-represented litigants file debt, replevin, and trespass actions in the Justice of the Peace Court. Developed by the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Justice of the Peace Court, in partnership with Legal Services Corporation of Delaware, and with programming support from Ohio DR Software, LLC, the interactive forms for debt, replevin, and trespass actions complete the planned series of five online tools.

According to one user, the return of security deposit program was "extremely helpful and made a seemingly daunting task very simple and straight forward." Another found the form completion process "very, very helpful."

"We hear from a lot of people who need help so this will be a very valuable resource for them, especially in this difficult time where there have been significant cuts in funding for legal services," says Douglas Canfield, who heads Legal Services Corporation of Delaware.

Feedback has been positive since the return of security deposit tool went online in August 2010 and the summary possession interactive form became available in May 2011.

Graphics guide litigants through an online interview process in which the user is asked questions specific to the type of claim selected. Using the answers to these questions, the program automatically fills in the complaint form, including the statement of facts. Upon completion, a file-ready document can be printed out by the litigant for submission to the Court. These new resources for self-represented litigants can be found on the web sites of the Justice of the Peace Court (www.courts.delaware.gov/jpcourt) and the Legal Services Corporation of Delaware (www.lscd.com).

"The majority of civil cases in the Justice of the Peace Court are filed by self-represented litigants so we are pleased to be able to make a variety of forms available interactively through this joint initiative with the Administrative Office of the Courts," says Chief Magistrate of the Justice of the Peace Court, Alan G. Davis. He adds that "The forms also help the judges and court staff by making filings easier to read and clearer than is sometimes the case."
Until these forms became available, the ability of JP Court staff to assist pro se litigants when asked for help to complete the complaint form was limited. However, at recent hands-on demonstrations of the new interactive online forms, staff at JP Court 13 in Wilmington and Court 9 in Middletown became familiar with the ease and convenience of using these tools. They can now confidently refer litigants to these readily accessible resources.

The interactive online interview process relies on a nationally recognized tool, A2J Author, which is supported by grants from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, State Justice Institute, Center for Access to the Courts through Technology, Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, and Legal Services Corporation (LSC).