December 10, 2021
187 Harry S. Truman Parkway
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
New Rockville District Court Help Center is already making positive impact on self-represented litigants
ROCKVILLE, Md. – Today, members of the Maryland Judiciary as well as representatives from Maryland Legal Aid and the Maryland Center for Legal Assistance celebrated the grand opening of the new District Court Help Center in Rockville. While the center officially opened on July 1, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was delayed due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Maryland Court Help Center services are a core function of our state’s civil justice system,” said Court of Appeals of Maryland Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty. “Maryland is a national leader in access to justice, currently ranking second in the nation for overall performance, according to the Justice Index, an online resource that scores states based on the adoption of best practices that further civil access to justice. These centers are critically important to the Maryland Judiciary’s mission to provide fair, efficient, and effective justice for all.”
The new District Court Help Center, which is located on the second floor of the District Court in Rockville, has already served more than 1,700 litigants since officially opening in July.
“Individuals often go without representation in high-stakes civil matters including divorce, child custody, and landlord-tenant matters,” said District Court of Maryland Chief Judge John P. Morrissey. “In fiscal year 2021, Maryland Court Help Centers provided more than 147,000 instances of service in civil matters to litigants without counsel and, in its first six months, this new location has proven to be an asset in the Montgomery County community.”
Most of the assistance comes from landlord and tenant matters making up 40% of the case types, with peace and protective orders and small claims totaling 16% and 15%, respectively. The Rockville help center serves many litigants with limited English proficiency. About 22% of litigants served are Spanish speakers followed by Chinese, French, Amharic, and Portuguese.
“Kudos to the Maryland Judiciary for taking another step in the direction of increasing access to justice in Maryland,” said Maryland Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm H. Joseph, Jr., Esq.
“The opening of another court-based, self-help center — in Montgomery County — is a testament to the success of the court’s effort to enable self-represented litigants to be ‘pro-se prepared’ when they come into court.”
“The Rockville District Court Help Center is committed to providing free comprehensive legal services to litigants, including immigrant litigants, in Montgomery County,” said Rockville District Court Help Center Supervising Attorney Nicolle Katrivanos. “We are aware of the unique challenges that non-English speaking community members face, and are actively taking strides to address them by ensuring we have bilingual staff, being culturally aware, and disseminating information regarding our services. We are privileged and thankful for the opportunity to serve, and hope to become a pillar of civil legal empowerment for Montgomery County residents.”
The Judiciary also runs a statewide center that serves litigants remotely via phone, live chat, and email, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. At the Rockville help center, litigants may speak with an attorney during regular court hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.