Justice for All Colorado’s Strategic Plan for Access to Justice, 0518 COBJ, Vol. 47, No. 5 Pg. 4

Author:DICK GAST, J.
Position:Vol. 47, 5 [Page 4]
 
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47 Colo.Law. 4

Justice for All Colorado’s Strategic Plan for Access to Justice

Vol. 47, No. 5 [Page 4]

The Colorado Lawyer

May, 2018

CBA PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

DICK GAST, J.

And justice for all. For some, those four words may harken back to the late 1980s when the heavy metal band Metallica released an album by that name. But most of us recognize those four words as the emphatic ending of our Pledge of Allegiance. It’s a powerful statement emphasizing that all of us are equal under the law. Equality under the law requires that we all have access to our justice system—that place where laws are administered, rights are protected, and disputes are resolved.

The Justice for All Project

Here on the home front, we have a long-standing commitment to providing Coloradans with meaningful access to justice, and we have numerous institutions dedicated to that commitment. But until recently, we had never had the opportunity to take a statewide, strategically coordinated look at access to justice in Colorado. That changed in the fall of 2016, when the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) announced its Justice for All project to fund strategic planning efforts advancing access to justice. A broad group of Colorado stakeholders (including the CBA) submitted a planning grant proposal to the NCSC, as did 24 other states. Colorado was one of only seven states to be awarded a grant and received $96,650 to pursue a strategic planning effort to expand access to justice across our state.

Grant funding in hand, off we charged down the strategic planning path in 2017. Our leadership team consisted of Supreme Court Justice Will Hood, Access to Justice Commission Chair Fred Baumann, and yours truly, with the incredible assistance of Legal Aid Foundation Executive Director Diana Poole, CBA Director of Local Bar Relations and Access to Justice Kath Schoen, and longtime access to justice consultant John Tull (John being the glue that bound the whole effort together).

The process began with a detailed inventory and assessment of access to justice resources throughout the state with an eye toward identifying service gaps and considering how to increase coordination and integration of services. That inventory was followed by convening working groups that met during the summer of 2017 to make recommendations across different subject areas for filling the gaps. Thee forts of the working groups culminated in a Justice for All Summit last October. Out of that Summit grew our Justice for All Colorado Strategic Action Plan. I will highlight a few key components of the planning process and the plan itself.

Inventory of Access to Justice Resources

The inventory and assessment process found that Colorado has developed a robust range of access to justice resources that can best be grouped into three categories: information, advice, and representation.

Information

Some people are able to tackle a legal issue with information alone. Our legal information resources include:

■ Self Help Centers located in courthouses throughout Colorado staffed by very capable Self Represented Litigant Coordinators (Sherlocks) who provide in-person information on court procedures and forms. In 2016, Sherlocks served 148,601 persons around the state.1

■ Family Court Facilitators in each of our 22 judicial districts who provide information in family law cases to the...

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