University of Denver

Looking Back at Two Years of Colorado’s Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator Program

Director of Special Projects

In 2013, the Colorado Judicial Branch created the Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator (Sherlock) program. The Sherlocks, operating in courthouses in each of Colorado’s judicial districts, assist litigants with information on court procedures, forms, and resources offered by the court and outside organizations. Sherlocks do not provide legal advice but they can provide legal information, and Colorado Chief Justice Directive 13-01 establishing the program assists by enumerating the services that self-help personnel can and cannot provide litigants.

According to Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice, the program “has seen tremendous success during its brief tenure.” Last year—the program’s first year in operation—Sherlocks had more than 100,000 contacts with self-represented litigants. This year’s contacts are expected to far exceed that number. Chief Justice Rice highlights the positive impact the program has had on access to the justice system:

“Without the assistance of Sherlocks, many self-represented individuals may have decided the court process was too complicated and walked away or, alternatively, proceeded without guidance, requiring court clerks, judges, and other staff members to provide piecemeal guidance and correct erroneous filings.”  

The high numbers of self-represented litigants in Colorado domestic relations cases mean that the state’s Sherlocks commonly assist families transitioning through separation or divorce. Through our Cases Without Counsel study, the Honoring Families Initiative is studying how these litigants experience the family justice system without an attorney. This research will shed valuable information on how self-represented litigants are utilizing and benefiting from self-help programs and other court resources.

Click here for more information from The Colorado Lawyer.