Every state court system has an administrative branch that manages the court system’s internal operations. It is most often named the Administrative Office of the Courts (as in Washington), but may also be called the Office of Judicial Administration (as in Kansas), Office of the State Court Administrator (as in Colorado , the Chief Court Administrator (as in Connecticut), the Division of State Court Administration (as in Indiana), the Director of State Courts (as in Wisconsin), and even the Office of the Executive Secretary (as in Virginia).
These administrative offices are usually under the … Read More
Just a few years ago, some courts started making court records and calendars available via mobile apps; we talked about it here. Those services required an iOS, Android, or BlackBerry app to be downloaded to your mobile device.
Since we last covered this topic, more court systems have offered mobile app access to their case records, calendars, and other information. Examples abound:
In Illinois, the Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court offers downloadable iOS and Android apps that include case record searches, traffic ticket searches, court location information and mapping, a fee schedule, and contact information.
In Ohio, the … Read More
Our 2008 blog post about mental illness cases introduced two aspects of that topic. Last month we covered Mental Health Courts – specialized court programs which can set up treatment in lieu of incarceration for some criminal offenders with mental health problems. For those offenders, their mental illness may have been a contributing factor in their commission of a crime, but is not severe enough to warrant commitment to a mental institution.
In order to be committed, a mentally-ill person must be dangerous to himself or herself or to others, or be unable to care for himself or herself. Criteria … Read More
Every court has specific rules that must be followed by all parties. Lawyers who regularly practice in a given court are very familiar with the rules of that court. They often know the rules so well that they don’t have to look them up. But you have to look them up. Even if you are representing yourself in court – known as appearing pro se (Latin for “for oneself”) – you will be expected to follow those rules. That means you’ll first have to find them. Fortunately, most court rules can be found online.
State court systems have statewide rules … Read More
We all know that you have to show up in court if you are a party to a case being tried – i.e, if you are the defendant in a criminal case, or the plaintiff or defendant in a civil lawsuit. But if you are just a witness, do you also have to show up in court?
The answer is yes, if the judge or one of the attorneys thinks your testimony is important. The court will issue a subpoena, which is a document commanding your appearance in court to testify as a witness. In some cases, the … Read More
Bad checks are an expensive and frequent problem for merchants, and even for private individuals on occasion. If you accept a check from someone and it bounces, it may have been an honest mistake; if so, the check writer might re-imburse you as soon as you ask. But if that doesn’t happen, how do you get your money?
It may be difficult, even if you’ve taken the precaution of verifying the check-writer’s identification. You can sue, but that will take a while and cost you time and money in the meantime. To convict the check writer of a crime, the … Read More
With the Trayvon Martin case, including the recent second degree murder charges against George Zimmerman making national news, violent crime is at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. The Martin/Zimmerman case has raised questions about who the true victim really was. Although we may not know the answer to that question until the case has been resolved, unfortunately there are thousands of crimes committed every day, leaving victims to deal with the aftermath. Often there is so much focus on the perpetrators of crime that the victim gets somewhat left behind by court systems. However, more and more courts are … Read More
All state court systems have procedures for handling wills and other estate matters, including estate administration, guardianships, conservatorships, and trusts. When someone dies with a will, the will must be proved to be valid, and the instructions in the will carried out. This process is called probate, so most courts that handle estate matters have come to be called “probate” courts.
Some court systems have separate probate courts; examples can be found in Connecticut, Georgia, and Texas. More often, a state’s main trial court will have a probate division; examples can be found in California Superior Court… Read More
For anyone facing involvement with the legal system for the first time, thoughts may immediately turn to lawyers. We’ve already addressed such questions as “Do I need a lawyer?” and “Can I get a lawyer for free?” and we covered lawyer referral services as well.
For those who don’t want to “go it alone” but don’t qualify for free services and can’t afford complete representation, there is another option. Limited-scope representation – also known as “unbundling” or “limited-assistance representation” – is growing in popularity. You and your lawyer agree to split up the tasks involved in … Read More