Office of Communications and Public Affairs
2001-E/F Commerce Park Drive
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
For Immediate Release
Maryland Courts Self-Help Center Expands Free Services to the Public
(ANNAPOLIS, Md. – October 30, 2015) –The Maryland Judiciary is expanding free self-help services for people who are representing themselves in civil cases in Maryland’s trial courts. Beginning Friday, October 30, 2015, a newly named and improved service, the Maryland Courts Self-Help Center, will provide phone and online help for people who are involved in a wide range of civil matters in either District Court or Circuit Courts.
The Maryland Courts Self-Help Center’s expanded services are now available to cover additional case types now to include landlord-tenant matters, small and large claims, debt collection, return of property, peace and protective orders, family law matters such as divorce, custody, child support and guardianship, foreclosure, shielding and expungement of records, and other types of civil matters filed in the Circuit Courts and/or the District Court. Services provided to self-represented litigants include help with:
- completing court forms;
- getting information on how to file court documents;
- preparing for court;
- preparing for mediation; and
- understanding court documents.
The Center’s expanded hours provide further convenience for customers, with phone and live online chat services available from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding court holidays. The Maryland Courts Self-Help Center is staffed by licensed attorneys who will work directly with individuals who contact the Center by phone or online chat.
Court users still will be able to request legal assistance on a walk-in basis at Family Law Self-Help Centers located in most Circuit Courts and the District Court Self-Help Resource Centers in the District Court’s Upper Marlboro and Glen Burnie locations.
Lawyers staffing the Judiciary’s self-help centers cannot represent people in court. Instead, the services are provided to assist people who are representing themselves in family and civil matters.
“The District Court launched the model of phone and live chat services with our Self-Help Resource Center, and it has been very well received by the public and continues to grow,” said Judge John P. Morrissey, Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland. “In 2014, the District Court Self-Help Center served more than 23,000 people by phone, live chat, and walk-in self-help services in the District Court locations in Glen Burnie and Upper Marlboro. And, in just the first nine months of this year, we have almost matched last year’s total with more than 21,000 people served.”
“The Judiciary is committed to expanding these programs to serve Marylanders more effectively with a broader range of civil legal assistance,” said Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera of the Court of Appeals, “The success of the District Court initiatives allows us to expand with confidence and competence as we move justice forward.”
“The newly expanded Maryland Courts Self-Help Center complements the network of walk-in services provided for Circuit Court and District Court litigants who are representing themselves,” said Pamela Harris, State Court Administrator. “The Center extends the reach of these separate centers to individuals all over Maryland and facilitates their access to and understanding of legal resources available to them.”
More information about the Maryland Courts Self-Help Center is available on its webpage. For assistance, users can call 410-260-1392 or live-chat by using the chat buttons found on the Maryland Courts Self-Help Center webpage and on other key pages on the Maryland Judiciary website, www.mdcourts.gov, or the People’s Law Library of Maryland, www.peoples-law.org.
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