Support for Self-Represented Litigants

In our states, more than 80% of the litigants appear without lawyers in matters as important as evictions, mortgage foreclosures, child custody and child support proceedings, and debt collection cases. Making courts user-friendly for these self represented litigants is imperative if we are to keep the promise of equal justice for all.

This visualization presents findings on the performance of each state in assuring access to justice for people who do not have lawyers to help them.

Performance is measured on a scale of zero to 100, in which zero reflects a poor performance in which 100 reflects adoption of all of the practices researched with respect to this issue. The purpose of this visualization is to show the index for this category, with the ability to filter and compare the performance of each state. Here are some ways to start navigating the visualization:
  • Select ‘Top’ (or ‘Bottom’) 5, 10 or 25 states (i.e., the states with the highest (lowest) justice index) by choosing the drop-down filter and the sliding scale at the top right corner of the visualization. To reset the filter, slide the sliding scale back to 50.
  • Filter by Region by checking one or more Region check-boxes near the map.
  • To focus on one (or more) states on the map, click and drag the cursor around the states of interest. Zoom in or out using the ‘+’ or ‘-‘ icons respectively on the top left corner of the map. Reset the map by clicking on the blue colored thumb tack on the top left corner of the map. To un-select states, click on an area of the map outside of the states.
  • The horizontal bars to the right of the map can be filtered by clicking on a single bar or clicking and dragging to select multiple states. To sort the chart, click the sort icon that appears when the cursor hovers near the x-axis of the bar-chart. To reset the chart, click on an area of the chart outside of the bars.
  • Select one or more states in the ‘Index Distribution (Scaled to 100)’ chart by clicking on one or more diamonds. To reset the chart, click on an area of the chart outside the diamonds.
  • Filter the ‘bubble chart’ by clicking on a ‘bubble’ or clicking and dragging to select multiple ‘bubbles’. The chart can also be filtered by clicking on the small squares that represent regions. To reset, click on an area of the chart outside the ‘bubbles’.
  • To filter by question, determine the question number from the first column of the ‘Response details’ chart and select it from the question number drop-down. Click the desired response check boxes for response(s) of interest. To reset, click on the (All) response check box.
Filters apply to all parts of the visualization (e.g., if ‘NY’ is selected in the map, all other charts will be filtered for ‘NY’ only), and multiple filters may be applied.
About This Data Visualization

The Justice Index presents research findings on important steps the states can take to give self represented litigants a meaningful opportunity to be heard. In many cases, these practices benefit not only the litigants, but also the courts. Litigation can be made more efficient, delays shorter and less common, and complaints fewer and more constructive. On the bubble chart below the map, the Index compares the each state’s progress in taking these important steps to the number of people in each state who are living below the poverty line. The “Response Detail” and “Citations” tabs (at top) provide more detail on the questions asked and the sources of the data. The findings show that some states have gone further down the path than others in adopting ideas for helping courts to address critical problems in people’s lives when those people do not have counsel.