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New self-help clinic helps Minnesotans navigate appeals process

Posted: Monday, February 8, 2016

A new self-help clinic at the Minnesota State Law Library provides free assistance to individuals seeking to file an appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals or the Minnesota Supreme Court.
 
The Appeals Self-Help Clinic began operating in mid-January, and will continue to be held monthly on a pilot basis at the State Law Library in St. Paul. The clinic offers self-represented litigants – those not represented by an attorney – an opportunity to have a brief meeting, at no cost, with a volunteer attorney to better understand the rules and procedures of Minnesota’s appellate courts. Volunteer attorneys are coordinated through the Appellate Practice Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA).
 
“Helping those involved in our judicial system better understand court processes is an important way that we ensure equal access to justice in Minnesota,” said Minnesota State Law Librarian Liz Reppe. “Many people who file appeals are surprised to learn how different the appellate court process is from what they may have seen or experienced in district court. We are grateful to the volunteer attorneys from the Minnesota State Bar Association who allow us to offer this important service, and hope that we are able to assist many Minnesotans better navigate the appeals process.”
 
At the clinic, self-represented litigants can learn more about a variety of appellate court topics, including:
 
  • Court deadlines;
  • What papers to file;
  • Fee waivers;
  • Motions;
  • Appellate briefs;
  • How to serve the other party; and
  • What issues the courts will review.
The clinic will typically be held on the third Thursday of every month, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., with the next clinic scheduled for Thursday, February 18. Holidays and other factors may impact clinic availability, and updated scheduling information will be posted on the Minnesota Law Library website at http://mn.gov/law-library/services/self-help-clinics.jsp.
 
The clinic is offered as a walk-in service, with interested persons served on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no income-qualification required for attendance. Limited telephone participation will be available for those not able to travel to St. Paul. Those interested in participating over the phone should contact the State Law Library at (651) 297-7651 prior to the day of the clinic to discuss availability.
 
“The Appellate Section of the MSBA has been working with the State Law Library for almost a year to launch the self-help clinic,” said Liz Kramer, Chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the MSBA and partner at Stinson Leonard Street. “We are thrilled that State Law Librarian Liz Reppe invited us to partner with her staff on this innovative clinic, and we look forward to helping Minnesotans navigate the appellate process."
 
Participating attorneys have volunteered to provide guidance and assistance to self-represented litigants at the Appeals Self-Help Clinic, and are not required to represent clinic attendees in court.
 
For more information about the Appeals Self-Help Clinic, visit http://mn.gov/law-library/services/self-help-clinics.jsp or contact the Minnesota State Law Library at 651-297-7651.
 
The Minnesota State Law Library is located on the ground floor of the Minnesota Judicial Center, 25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN.
 
Other Resources Available for Self-Represented Litigants
 
Minnesota ranks as one of the highest-scoring states in the nation on the Justice Index, an independent examination of how well state court systems ensure access to justice for those who can’t afford an attorney, those with limited-English proficiency, and those with disabilities.
 
In addition to the new Appeals Self-Help Clinic, Minnesota offers a variety of resources for self-represented litigants:
 
  • Minnesota’s statewide Self Help Center provides assistance to court customers through online resources and forms available at www.mncourts.gov. In addition, the Minnesota State Law Library offers an array of online resources on various legal topics at http://mn.gov/law-library/legal-topics/.
  • The statewide Self Help Center also offers assistance over the phone and through e-mail. Contact information is available at http://www.mncourts.gov/selfhelp.
  • Each courthouse in Minnesota offers a self-help workstation that can be used to find court information, print court forms, and talk over the phone with Self Help Center staff about forms, procedures, and legal resources.
  • Walk-in self-help centers are available at Hennepin, Ramsey, and Anoka county court facilities. Additionally, each of Minnesota’s 10 judicial districts also coordinate with volunteer attorneys and other legal experts to provide free or low-cost legal advice clinics. More information is available at http://www.mncourts.gov/selfhelp.