Judicial Branch Launches Series Of Educational Videos

, The Connecticut Law Tribune


Divorce video on YouTube

In the first video, for example, the narrator, Jim Lawlor from the Waterbury Court Service Center, instructs viewers by using simple, everyday language. "Broken down irretrievably," Lawlor says. "This is the most common reason people give for wanting a divorce. It means there is no hope of the spouses getting back together."

Late-Night Viewing

Krista Hess, who is the court service center programs manager for the Judicial Branch, said the idea for creating instructional videos has been tossed around for a few years.

The idea for the videos was born out of the strategic plan created by the Self-represented Parties Committee. The committee was formed in 2008 to study the changing legal landscape and to look for ways to implement tools and resources to adapt to the growing number of self-represented parties in the courts.

The idea was to increase the availability of information, to better help pro se litigants navigate the court system in an efficient and timely manner.

Hess was on the committee. She said members agreed videos would be a good educational resource, to be used in addition to help center locations and law libraries that provide instructional materials at 13 of the state's 15 judicial districts.

"Primarily, the idea is that since courts are only open from 9 to 5, and people have to go into the courts to get that information, that could be problematic for a lot of people," Hess said. "If we provide electronic access to the instructional materials, people can watch them when they get home from work, even if it's 11 o'clock at night."

Many court employees appeared in the videos, including clerk's office staff, foreclosure mediators, court service center workers and marshals. "We're really trying to give people a very basic understanding of what they might expect in court," she said. "For example, when they go to the courthouse, they will have to go through a metal detector, and when they go to court, they will have to stand and raise their right hand and be sworn in'."

A third video was recently created on filing restraining orders, but it hasn't yet been posted online. All of the videos are available in English, Spanish and Polish. Hess said each of the videos took about six months to complete. Other possible court areas that could benefit from similar videos include small claims, housing and foreclosure, "where we have the largest concentration of self-represented parties," Hess said. •

What's being said

  • Trish Hayn

    You need to lead with how the average person needs to ask for an attorney when detained by police. It must be an unambiguous statement, not a question. Never speak to the police about anything but the weather without an attorney or you will learn the hard way like my husband.

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