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Research and Evaluation

This section contains evaluations from self-help centers, sample forms, and evaluation strategies, as well as links to other research on self-represented litigants.

Evaluation tools

Access, Fairness, and Diversity: Toolkit of Educational Resources for California Courts
Goal 1 of the Judicial Branch’s Strategic Plan is to ensure access, fairness, and diversity in California’s courts and is also a key goal in some local court strategic plans. Ensuring access, fairness, and diversity can, however, be a challenging undertaking for any court. The “Access, Fairness, and Diversity Self-Assessment Toolkit” is designed to help courts:

  1. voluntarily look at how they are working to achieve access, fairness, and diversity in their court;
  2. get ideas about other aspects of access, fairness, and diversity they may want to improve; and
  3. obtain links to existing educational and training resources that may help courts achieve their goals of improving access, fairness, and diversity.

Courts may use the toolkit, in whole or in part, to conduct a private self-assessment and are not asked to share the results of any self-assessment with others. While the toolkit does not provide an exhaustive list of access, fairness, and diversity concerns, it highlights common issues that courts may want to consider. The toolkit will be periodically updated to reflect new access, fairness, and diversity concerns and to include updated educational resources. This tool is intended for Presiding Judges, Court Executive Officers, and a variety of court staff, including those involved in management, information technology, education, and self-help services. The toolkit is available in Word if you would like to customize.

Workshop Participant Survey - developed by the Judicial Council of California for the evaluation of model self-help pilot programs.

Self-Help Center Customer Survey - developed by the Judicial Council of Californfor the evaluation of model self-help pilot programs.

Guide To Self Assessment of Court Programs To Assist Self-Represented Litigants - This Guide describes all the tools and how to use them.

Exit Survey - This can be used to collect data from all persons leaving a courthouse, with a supplement seeking additional information from self-represented litigants.

Judge and Staff Survey  - This can be used to obtain court personnel’s perceptions of the court’s success in dealing with self-represented litigants, their views on problems encountered by self-represented litigants, and actions the court could take to alleviate them.

Guidelines for Data Gathering - This explains how to administer the Exit Survey and the Judge and Staff Survey. The user should read these guidelines before administering any surveys.

Basic Interview Formats - These are for use in talking with litigants, judges, court personnel, lawyers, representatives of other community organizations (such as legal aid and social services) about their experiences with self-represented litigants and their perceptions of the needs of these litigants. There are two basic formats – one for litigants and one for all stakeholders.

Guidelines for the Use of Focus Groups - Focus groups can be used to obtain information from small groups of persons, such as self-represented litigants using the court, a specific minority group that has not traditionally used the court due to cultural barriers, or a group of judges who have a high volume of self-represented litigant cases.

Tour Guide  - This explains how to observe the courthouse and court processes from the point of view of a self-represented litigant.

Best Practices Checklist - This can be used by a court to use in assessing the extent to which it is following the procedures and practices that national experts consider optimal in dealing with self-represented litigants.

Model for a Comprehensive Self Assessment - This provides a complete model for a court that wishes to fully and completely assess its program from A to Z.

Summary of Ethical Guidelines for Conducting Interviews and Data Collection  - This document provides general guidance for courts conducting self assessments about ethical issues such as obtaining informed consent from persons providing information to the court and maintaining the confidentiality of personal information obtained.

Evaluation Planning Workbook -- How to Use focus Groups and Other Evaluation Methods to Improve Court Based Self-Help Centers (May 2007) (Prepared by the Center for Families, Children and the Courts, Judicial Council of California).

Using Focus Groups in Program Evaluation (Prepared for the California Conference on Self-Represented Litigants).

Culturally Appropriate Focus Group Information (Prepared by the Superior Court of California, County of Imperial )

Evaluation - Bonnie Hough

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Program evaluations

Task Force on Self-Represented Litigants: Final Report on Implementation of the Judicial Council Statewide Action Plan for Serving Self-Represented Litigants (Oct. 28, 2014). Prepared by the Judicial Council of California.

The Benefits and Costs of Programs to Assist Self-Represented Litigants: Results from Limited Data Gathering Conducted by Six Trial Courts in California’s San Joaquin Valley (May 2009) (Prepared by John Greacen, Greacen Associates, LLC.)

Final Report on the Effectiveness of Courtroom Communication in Hearings Involving Two Self-Represented Litigants  - A report of the findings of the exploratory study conducted by Greacen Associates, LLC and the Self-Represented Litigation Network.

Los Angeles County Superior Court JusticeCorps Focus Groups Report (full report)

Report to the California Legislature on Self-Help Centers

Executive Summary of the Report to the California Legislature on Self-Help Centers

Evaluation of Model Self-Help Centers Pilot Programs

Model Self-Help Centers Pilot Program Status Report as of Fall 2003

Model Self-Help Pilot Programs - A Report to the Legislature, March 2005

Evaluation of Equal Access Fund Projects


Final Evaluation for Van Nuys Self-Help Center (2001)

Self-Represented Litigants and Court and Legal Services Responses to Their Needs - What We Know

Evaluation of Sonoma County's Self-Help Action Center

Family Law Information Center Report: An Evaluation of Three Pilot Projects

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