Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, April 30, 2007


Page 3


Local Superior, Appellate Court Programs Receive 2006-2007 Kleps Award


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Los Angeles Superior Court’s JusticeCorps program and the judicial extern program of the Second District Court of Appeal are among recipients of the 2006-2007 Ralph N. Kleps Award, the Judicial Council of California announced Friday.

Among the nine recipients of the honor, which annually recognizes innovation in the state’s courts, JusticeCorps and this appellate district’s extern program were recently selected for being “exemplary,” the council said in a release.

An awards presentation is scheduled for Sept. 27 at the California Bench-Bar Biannual Conference in Anaheim.

Kathleen Dixon, managing research attorney for the Los Angeles Superior Court and supervisor of JusticeCorps, told the MetNews:

“We’re thrilled for the recognition of the program and for the opportunity to share the program that we’ve created here so that it can be replicated in other counties.”

Dixon and Martha Wright, who is now the senior court services analyst and JusticeCorps liaison for the Administrative Office of the Courts, conceived the self-help assistance program in 2004.  Through collaboration with local colleges and legal aid organizations, the court trains 100 college-level student interns to help self-represented litigants with the legal process in unlawful detainer, family law and small claims cases.

Now in its third year, JusticeCorps is reapplying for its initial AmeriCorps grant and expects to be funded for an expansion that will include a Bay Area JusticeCorps similar to the Los Angeles model, Dixon said.  The Bay Area currently has a 40-intern pilot program that launched last fall but anticipates growing into a full 100-intern program run jointly by San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara superior courts.

In Los Angeles, Dixon added, JusticeCorps plans to add about 60 more intern positions and seven or eight full-time AmeriCorps internship slots for second-year JusticeCorps students.

The Los Angeles JusticeCorps is “very anxious to share” the lessons it has learned

regarding self-represented litigant services and issues.

“We’ve been contacted by other counties, other states and even some legal aid programs and courts in Canada to look at what we’re doing,” she said, noting that San Diego will likely follow with a similar program after the Bay Area.

Remarking on the appellate district’s externship program, which was created by Justice Paul Boland, Court of Appeal Clerk/Administrator Joseph Lane said the court was “very pleased” that Boland will be recognized for his work on behalf of the hundreds of law students who have gone through the program.

“Usually an externship pairs you up with a single chamber or a single judge,” he said. “This program makes it more of a curriculum and an environment where all of the externs come together at a minimum on a weekly basis, so there is a lot more interaction throughout the breadth of the whole court system, including with the trial court, and different facets of the trial court, not just civil, for example.”

The program, which was launched four years ago and has been in its present form for two years, provides law students with an extensive range of activities, information and seminars, which have included talks given by Supreme Court Justice Carlos R. Moreno.

The other county-specific Superior Court programs receiving Kleps recognition are Napa’s Help Court and Community Referral System; Butte’s Court Clerk Career Progression Opportunity Program; Monterey’s Court Case Information Web Application—Justice Partner Access Web Site; and Fresno’s ACTION (After Criminal Traffic Infraction One-Stop Network) Center.

Three jointly run Superior Court programs are also being honored: the Collaborative Information Services Project, between Butte and Glenn counties; the Four-Court Regional Appellate Division of Lassen, Modoc, Plumas and Sierra; and the Regional Court and Library Partnership of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey.   


Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company