Advocates Want Better Court Access For Ohioans

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UPDATED: Monday July 14, 2014 6:32 PM

Better access to justice – at least that’s what the state Supreme Court hopes to accomplish with a new task force led by a familiar face.

"Pro se litigates take a lot of the courts time," said Nancy Grigsby of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.  "When you go into court without an attorney and you're facing an abusive partner you're not likely to win custody of your children."

Grigsby says many domestic violence victims enter courtrooms unprepared for long legal battles without an attorney and the consequences can be devastating.

"We've seen literally hundreds and maybe even thousands of people who are in very serious legal proceedings without an attorney," said Grigsby.

The issue is such a problem that the state Supreme Court has now appointed a task force to address it.

"Access to justice has been an issue for years as the funding for legal aid has decreased," said Yvette McGee Brown, a former member of the state Supreme Court.  "People have to believe they have access to the courts.  They have to believe in our justice system.  And for most people their vision of justice is their interaction in our courts."

McGee Brown is heading the task force which is looking at ways to identify obstacles and propose solutions.

Grigsby says advocates can provide self-help legal guides, but better access to the courts should be the priority.

"Ultimately everyone deserves to have an attorney with them at court when their  lives, their safety, their housing, their employment and custody of their children is on the line," said Grigsby.  "I think people deserve an attorney."

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