Judicial Branch Launches Series Of Educational Videos

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Divorce video on YouTube

A basic understanding of legal terms and courtroom procedures can be daunting for anyone who tries to get a divorce without the help of a lawyer.

To help smooth the process of self-represented divorce cases, the Connecticut Judicial Branch has gone into the movie business.

No, family court judges are not trying to win an Academy Award with a remake of the classic family drama Kramer vs Kramer. Instead, court administrators are producing instructional videos to teach the masses how to resolve a divorce case. The hope is that the videos will help real-life litigants to more effectively navigate the system.

The production costs are being covered in part by a $20,000 grant from State Justice Institute, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit corporation that awards grants with the intent of improving the quality of justice in state courts.

Technical support, including help writing scripts for the videos, is being provided through a partnership between the Judicial Branch and the New Haven Legal Assistance Association.

"Some people are visual learners, and some people have limited literacy skills, so we found the videos are a great way to demystify the court system and help people feel more comfortable using the courts," said Susan Nofi-Bendici, the executive director of the New Haven-based legal aid organization, who worked on the videos in an advisory capacity.

"Look, a video is never going to be as good as lawyer," she said, "but if we can't meet the legal demand for providing legal services for everyone, at least we can give a lot of support to people by providing them with information on how to represent themselves."

Since the Judicial Branch video program started in June, two of the instructional videos have been completed and put on its website, as well as on YouTube. The first to be uploaded in the news section of the Judicial Branch website is called "Your Uncontested Divorce."

More recently, a seven-minute video, titled "How to File For Divorce," was added. With court clerk, secretaries and even a judge "acting" out the roles of court personnel and divorcing couples in front of the camera, both videos walk viewers through the steps to file for a divorce in Connecticut Superior Court.

The videos show viewers the various forms that are filed in divorce cases. Key phrases that are used in court are clearly defined.

What's being said

  • Trish Hayn

    You need to lead with how the average person needs to ask for an attorney when detained by police. It must be an unambiguous statement, not a question. Never speak to the police about anything but the weather without an attorney or you will learn the hard way like my husband.

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