The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Self-Representation in New Hampshire State Courts

Current Strategies, Future Solutions, and an Experimental Investigation of Online Resources
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 0910-08
June 01, 2010

Executive Summary

This report describes a research project undertaken by Dartmouth students seeking to evaluate how effectively the New Hampshire Judicial Branch’s web site supports litigants who chose to represent themselves (“pro se”) in civil and family court. Servicing these people’s needs effectively via the web saves both the litigants and the system time and resources. We examine how easily survey participants could use the web site’s resources to understand what they needed to do to effectively represent themselves in realistic hypothetical cases. We found that the recently redesigned New Hampshire web site was comparable in many ways to the highly regarded Maricopa County, Arizona web site. Nonetheless, we identified places that participants regularly struggled and which offer additional opportunities for low cost improvements. These include struggles to identify which forms, fees and information applied to their cases specifically which was connected to a failure to access the correct documents. We delineate the areas in which they struggled, and summarize some of the ways they suggested that information could be made more accessible.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences