Improving Systems of Justice
The Commission is extremely fortunate to have the partnership of the Chief Judges of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) in our collective work to enhance equal access to the courts and to remove barriers for the far too many pro se litigants who must proceed without the assistance of counsel. The Commission meets regularly with the Chief Judge of the Superior Court and with OAH's Pro Bono Committee to identify areas for reform and to work on joint initiatives.
The Commission is working closely with judges and court staff to make the Courts even more accessible to low–income and pro se litigants. In recent years, the Commission has worked with the Superior Court to launch a fast–track Housing Conditions Calendar that gives tenants a simplified mechanism for seeking redress of housing code violations. It has also worked with the Court to ensure access to interpreters in all civil cases, strengthen Code of Judicial Conduct provisions relating to assistance judges can provide to pro se litigants, improve the application and process for fee–waiver applications, remediate child–support related problems, develop judicial trainings, and improve the experience of pro se litigants overall. The Commission is currently working on initiatives relating to the representation of tenants in landlord-tenant court and delays in the unemployment insurance process.
The Commission is also working with OAH to increase legal representation of and provide legal information to low–income litigants who appear before the agency. It is also provided support to OAH as it developed its first Pro Se Resource Center.