The purpose of the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Self-Represented Litigation is to engage in continuing analysis and study of the challenges which self-represented litigation poses for court staff, the judiciary, and the practicing bar; to continue assessment of the challenges to the right of self-representation; to propose solutions or improvements in response to such challenges; and to implement the recommendations of the Self-Represented Litigation Committee which the Nebraska Supreme Court approves.
Programming is guided by the Nebraska Supreme Court Implementation Committee on Self-Represented Litigation with project leadership from each of the subcommittees listed below. Subcommittee project reports can be found on a separate page titled: Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Self-Represented Litigation Committee Reports.
Forms & Instructions
The forms committee’s ongoing mission is to work to maintain the accuracy and relevancy of existing online forms. Requests for new form development are reviewed by the committee with careful consideration given to the needs of lower-income Nebraskans who would otherwise be denied access to the justice system. A complete list of forms available to the public can be found on the Nebraska Legal Online Self-Help Center on the Nebraska Judicial Branch Website.
The Self-Represented Litigation Committee considers all librarians, public and legal, to be partners in the responsibility to provide the public with quality research and internet access to legal resources. The courts are now in the position to capitalize on expanded services to increase the availability of online services to individuals who represent themselves in court. The committee remains committed to the education of and support of librarians across the state.
Self-Help Desk Centers are located in several communities throughout the state. Each are operated by volunteer lawyers under the supervision of the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project. Centers focus on civil, mostly family law, cases. Legal information, assistance with forms, and brief legal advice is provided through Self-Help Desks which are open limited hours.
Approximately 95% of Self-Help Desk patrons are at or near poverty level.
Limited Scope Representation
The Limited Scope Subcommittee works to increase awareness of limited scope opportunities within the legal community and to communicate the benefits of limited representation to the public. The committee’s initial efforts revolved around amending Supreme Court Rules to authorize Nebraska attorneys to enter a “Limited Appearance” on behalf of an otherwise unrepresented party for a limited and defined purpose. Nebraska’s rules have been replicated by a number of other states, particularly Nebraska’s concept of automated withdrawal of counsel upon filing of a Certificate of Completion.
Other efforts include education seminars at joint meetings of judges and lawyers along with written materials in legal publications and on the Judicial Branch Website. ‘Frequently Asked Question’ flyers for both litigants and lawyers are available on the Limited Scope Representation page.
Additional Services and Resources
Self-Represented Litigation Education for Court Staff and New Judges
Judicial Branch Education has developed a 10-hour course module for court clerks on dealing with self–represented litigants. The course, hosted on Judicial Education’s ‘blackboard’ system, is offered through Nebraska’s court certification program. The curriculum is based on the court employee pro se manual, “Working with Pro Se Litigants” developed by the original members of the Committee on Self-Represented Litigation.
Education sessions on self-represented litigants are regularly offered during new judge and new employee orientation programs; and taught throughout the regular, ongoing Judicial Branch education curriculum.
Resources, forms and information found on the online self-help center are provided by the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Committee on Self-Represented Litigants as part of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s commitment to ensure that all Nebraskans have meaningful and complete access to the judicial system, including those Nebraskans who represent themselves.
Supreme Court Committee on Self-Represented Litigation Strategic Plan 2015-2020
2014 Articles on Creative Self-Represented Litigation Programming in Nebraska
Overview and General Information for Self-Represented Litigants
“As I have noted in past years, one of the major challenges that our courts and judges face as we proceed into the 21st Century is the rapid increase of self-represented parties.”
—Chief Justice Mike Heavican State of the Judiciary, January 2010
Nebraska Committee on Self-Represented Litigation
Staff: Janet Bancroft
Public Information Officer
1213 State Capitol
1445 K Street/P.O Box 98910
Lincoln, NE 68509