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Judiciary launches first self-help center with circuit and district court assistance

A new self-help center in Frederick will offer free legal advice in civil matters for self-represented litigants in both district and circuit courts, a first in the state.

The center, which has served more than 400 citizens since July, had its official grand opening Friday, according to the Maryland Judiciary.

“The new center represents a significant expansion in the Judiciary’s network of self-help services,” District Court of Maryland Chief Judge John P. Morrissey said in a statement. “Through these services, the Judiciary provides resources for the many people who need assistance in understanding their rights.”

Attorneys will provide assistance in family law, landlord-tenant, domestic violence, foreclosure, small claims, debt collection and expungement cases, among others. It is located in the Frederick County Courthouse and open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“It is tremendous that we can offer resources right here in the courthouse,” Frederick County Circuit Administrative Judge Julie R. Stevenson Solt said. “When people come to the courthouse with legal questions about civil matters, this center will be the first step for them. Litigants can find help navigating the courts, finding legal information, and accessing other resources to help them prepare for their cases.”

The center is the fifth walk-in center in the state, joining those in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Upper Marlboro and Salisbury, but the first to offer circuit court assistance. They are operated by the Maryland Center for Legal Assistance.

“The opening of the court-based self-help center in Frederick concretely reflects the commitment of the Maryland Judiciary to increase access to justice for all,” Brian Hochheimer, chair of the MCLA Board of Managers said. “This is an exciting development for Marylanders seeking guidance in navigating their legal challenges through the judicial system.”

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