A groundbreaking initiative was unveiled today/last week to address the pressing need for supportive legal services in our community. United Way of Indian River County in collaboration with the Clerk of Court, local judges, court administration, and county government
The Self Help Centers will cater to self-represented parties dealing with cases involving residential landlord/tenant disputes, small claims, and family law (including
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by key stakeholders, community leaders, legal professionals, and the general public. We were honored to have Clerk of the Court, Ryan Butler, Judge Cynthia Cox, Director of Case Management, Dawn Boulding, and Commissioner Joe Earman share insights as to how the Access to Justice Self Help Center will improve the process for self-represented parties resulting in a more efficient and equitable justice system for our community. The center is named for Jeffrey R. Smith who served as the Clerk of the Court and Comptroller for 11 years and helped bring this initiative to fruition.
Judge Cynthia Cox emphasized the significance of initiatives like these, stating, “By breaking down barriers, initiatives like this create a more inclusive legal system where justice is not a privilege but a fundamental right.”
Indian River County takes a pioneering step by incorporating the Legal Kiosk functionality, combining the best practices of peer self-help centers in Florida with national models for bridging the digital divide. This innovation allows for additional sites, increasing access to communities throughout the county.
Ryan Butler, Clerk of the Court, remarked, “With over 80% of parties in family and small claims cases representing themselves, there has never been a greater need for free and low-cost legal services. Helping people navigate our complex legal system will streamline issues for our judges and result in a faster resolution of cases.”
Visitors to the Self Help Centers can utilize easy-to-use, confidential legal kiosks to find, complete, and submit forms and documents. Additionally, they can schedule low-cost attorney consultations by Zoom and appear remotely for hearings and other mandated appearances. Knowledgeable staff will assist clients in navigating local procedures, locating relevant legal forms, and facilitating their proper completion.
Self Help Center Hours:
· Indian River County Courthouse, 2000 16th Avenue, Vero Beach, FL 32960: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
· United Against Poverty, 1400 27th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960: Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
The Access to Justice initiative is funded by United Way of Indian River County, John’s Island Community Service League, Truist, Indian River County, and John’s Island Foundation and several private funders.
The launch of the Access to Justice Self Help Centers at the IRC Courthouse and United Against Poverty marks the first step toward the overall mission of increasing access to justice throughout Indian River County, creating connections to community resources, restoring wholeness, and inspiring public trust.
About United Way of Indian River County
United Way of Indian River County (UWIRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every community member. United Way works with local programs to provide resources to individuals and families in crisis today while working year-round to improve community conditions and create lasting solutions. We are effectively building a strong foundation and improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. For more information about your local United Way, please call (772) 567-8900 or visit our website, UnitedWayIRC.org.