AUSTIN, October 5, 2022 — The grant from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) funds the first phase of a statewide Virtual Court Access Project that aims to improve low-income Texans' ability to effectively participate in virtual court proceedings.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought about incredible challenges for legal aid and our clients, however, the charge to keep courts open while maintaining safe distance also created unique opportunities,” Betty Balli Torres, Executive Director at TAJF, said. “The innovative use of technology in the courts expanded access to justice and increased court participation for many Texans, especially legal aid clients. We are excited to build upon these technological advances for the future.”
Phase one of the project includes establishing 25 virtual court kiosks that allow users to attend a hearing, upload documents, and generally interact with the court. The kiosks will be inside community centers, shelters, clinics, libraries, and other locations convenient to client communities. Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) will also build out a comprehensive collection of educational materials for individuals attending court hearings and operating the kiosks. The articles, guides, and videos will be featured on TexasLawHelp.org, a TLSC-managed website dedicated to providing reliable legal information to low-income Texans. Additional support for kiosk users will be provided through TexasLawHelp.org LiveChat and dedicated staff to help users navigate virtual court proceedings.
“We are excited to partner with community leaders to ensure that the virtual court kiosks become a bridge to justice, removing barriers for people on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said Karen Miller, Executive Director of Texas Legal Services Center.
TLSC is currently identifying areas where courts have an interest in offering virtual participation, community partners to host kiosks, and potential technology partners. TLSC is also recruiting staff to create educational content and provide ongoing support via TexasLawHelp.org.
About Texas Legal Services Center
Texas Legal Services Center is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide high-quality legal representation, advice, advocacy, and education at no cost to underserved people across the state. With more than a dozen practice areas, our work touches almost every aspect of civil law that impacts low-income Texans.
Staci Maloney, Communications
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