San Diego/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on March 04, 2024
San Diego Superior Court Resumes In-Person Legal Aid for Small Claims LitigantsSource: Google Street View

San Diego's justice system is offering a helping hand once again to those battling it out in small claims court. Starting March 12, the San Diego Superior Court’s Small Claims Legal Advisory (SCLA) is set to provide in-person aid to self-represented litigants trying to navigate the complexities of court procedures, according to a statement on the court's official website.

This initiative welcomes plaintiffs and defendants back to the Hall of Justice, for guidance on how to properly complete legal forms, a service that took a backseat during the pandemic and subsequent renovations. Small claims court, a venue where the maximum damage claim is capped at $12,500, operates under the principle that litigants must fend for themselves, legal representation is not an option in the courtroom, though they can seek out advice prior to stepping in front of a judge.

The court's announcement indicates that free assistance from qualified attorneys and paralegals is up for grabs, for anyone in need Monday through Thursday. Walk-ins can pop in between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., while appointments are up for grabs between 11:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Those looking to book a 30-minute session must fill an online form on the court's website.

Ringing in this new era of in-person assistance is Michael Roddy, the Court Executive Officer, who acknowledged, "We are pleased to be offering in-person assistance again after having to put those services on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic," as described on the court's website. While phone, and email support have been a hit in recent years, Robby understands the irreplaceable value of human interaction, "However, we recognize that many members of the public may now prefer a face-to-face meeting where they can potentially walk out with completed paperwork ready to drop off in the business office next door."

The SCLA is also reachable for the phone-bound at (858) 634-1777, fielding close to 3,000 calls monthly, in English and Spanish. Operators are ready to help Monday to Friday, working the lines from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., while a 24-hour recorded information service can be reached at (858) 634-1900 for those after-hours inquiries. And for the linguistically diverse, the court promises translation services at no extra charge to litigants.

For additional details on how to start a small claim, or further information on the assistance offered, interested parties are directed to sdcourt.ca.gov/smallclaims for further enlightenment.