Courts across the country have experienced a significant increase in the number of cases involving self-represented litigants. To assist in meeting the demand for additional resources, the Court Statistics Project (CSP), with support from SJI, recently released a report titled, Developing Standardized Definitions and Counting Rules for Cases with Self-Represented Litigants, (SJI-12-P-084).
CSP, a joint project of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), has developed a number of products through extensive research and collection of case data that advance the courts’ ability to address self-represented litigant demands with efficiency, and in the fairest manner possible. The project to standardize self-represented litigant definitions and counting rules was initiated with the goal of establishing a consistent approach to reporting cases with self-represented litigants, and fostering a means by which comparative data could be produced within and among jurisdictions.
CSP intends to use this data to facilitate greater understanding of the nature and extent of self-representation in the state courts. Recommendations are provided in three key areas necessary to case processing: 1) definitions; 2) counting rules; and, 3) reporting guidelines. Each area is well-defined with the intent of avoiding ambiguity when it comes to collecting, interpreting , and reporting caseload data. The final report also addresses court technology standards that reflect the level of capabilities required to manage data-driven operational changes.