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The Scoop

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Verbatim: Public TV to air Indiana court series

Statement issued Wednesday:

An exciting partnership between the Indiana Judicial Branch and Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations (IPBS) will allow viewers to learn more about the courts. The “Indiana Channel” will bring IPBS viewers unprecedented access to the Indiana courts. The first programming, part of the “Family Matters: Choosing to Represent Yourself in Court” series will begin airing on Thursday, September 2 on Indiana public television stations.

Family Matters was developed to help people make informed decisions regarding legal representation. It provides important information about the legal process and the responsibilities that a person accepts when they decide to appear in court without an attorney. Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard is confident the program will benefit people who are considering whether to represent themselves in court. In 2008, more than 400,000 cases included a self represented litigant. “There are common questions about moving forward with a case without an attorney and there are some risks involved. There are frequent deadlines and requirements for courtroom behavior. The Family Matters program provides clear information and answers to those questions.”

The Supreme Court’s Division of State Court Administration produced the Family Matters video in November 2008 for The Family Court Project. The program is designed to provide viewers with information about different stages of a case. For example, there is a section on general responsibilities and another on preparing for court. The video also provides resources for viewers who decide against self-representation and are interested in finding an attorney.

The information is applicable to litigants in any Indiana county. Lilly Judson, Executive Director of State Court Administration, explained the importance of the program, “This video provides the sort of crucial information, in easy to understand language, that every person who proceeds to court without an attorney needs. Equipping self represented litigants with this information will also ease the work of court staff across the state by setting forth clear expectations for litigants who go to court without a lawyer.”

The Indiana Supreme Court’s Division of State Court Administration produced Family Matters in partnership with the Indiana Bar Foundation. It was initially released in November 2008 as an online informational video. It was also distributed in DVD format across the state to all Indiana public library districts, law schools, pro bono districts, and other legal aid organizations. To watch the video online visit http://www.in.gov/judiciary/selfservice/.

Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations include eight NPR and eight PBS member stations across the state. The Indiana Channel programming will eventually include Supreme Court oral arguments, stories about court history and educational programming. For more information about the Indiana Judicial Branch visit courts.in.gov. For more information about Indiana Public Broadcasting visit www.ipbs.org.

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