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Self-help center consultant wanted



The Second Judicial District Court of Nevada, in consultation with Washoe County government, is soliciting bids for a consultant to study and provide recommendations concerning the Law Library and the pro per Self Help Center.


As of July 1, 2009, the Second Judicial District Court (“Court”) assumed the responsibility for the finding and operation of the existing Washoe County Law Library (“Library”). The Court wants to consolidate its operation of a pro per Self Help Center (“SHC”) with the Library into a unified approach to legal information and access that will be designed and oriented toward future demands for the next ten to fifteen years.

Outline of Work

In order to provide the product and advice desired, the following tasks are anticipated with anticipated site visits occurring no later than August 15, 2009.

1) Inventory of current assets of Library and SHC, including personnel,

collected fees and collections.

2) Inventory of current services and public service events delivered

by Library and SHC.

3) Needs assessment from significant parties both “inside” and “outside” the current system.

4) Trends research as to futures of both libraries and pro per service delivery models.

5) Delivery and presentation of final report.


In responding to this document, please include curriculum vitae and estimate on costs and/or proposed budget, and fees to accomplish this work.

All questions and correspondence shall be directed to the Court Administrator by July 31, 2009.

Howard W. Conyers

Court Administrator

P.O. Box 30083

Reno, NV 89520-3083

(775) 328-3119

(775) 328-3206 – fax

New contributors for SHLEP


I’m very excited to announce the addition of four new contributors to SHLEP:

Sharon Blackburn, Head of Faculty Services,

Texas Tech University School of Law

Amy Hale-Janeke, Head of Reference Services, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Library

William Ketchum, Reference  & Faculty Services Librarian,

University of La Verne College of Law

Deborah Schander, Reference & Electronic Services Librarian,

University of La Verne College of Law

I have a few more people I’m waiting to hear from.

This time we really mean it!


I’m so sorry that Tammy and I allowed this wonderful blog to flounder for two years as we both got settled into our new jobs on the west coast. The good news is that I am ready to get re-involved and will be including my staff here in the Instruction and Research Services department at the University of La Verne College of Law in wonderful, sunny, downtown Ontario, California.

I will do my utmost to have a fresh, spanking new post for SHLEP by the end of this weekend, and will begin the process of freshening up. I hope we can bring this sleeping resource back online so that it can be as helpful as it once was.

And thanks to the wonderful people at the Harvard Law School who were working late and helped me remember how to log in!


Winkelman v. Parma City decided


On Monday, May 22, the Supreme Court decided Winkelman v. Parma City School District, which Shlep has been covering as it made its way through the courts.  To recap briefly, the case involved two parents, the Winkelmans, of a disabled child who were unsatisfied with the education their son was receiving under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  After going through the proper administrative channels, the Winkelman’s appealed to federal court, acting as their own, or alternatively as their son’s, counsel.  The case was dismissed in the Sixth Circuit because the parents were held to not have a right to bring the case to court under IDEA and alternatively, not to have the right to act pro se on their child’s behalf. 

On May 22, the Supreme Court held that parents have a cause of action under IDEA.  They therefore did not reach the question of whether parents may act pro se on their child’s behalf.  However, as Scalia pointed out in his dissent:

Both sides agree…that the common law generally prohibited lay parents from representing their children in court, a manifestation of the more general common-law rule that nonattorneys cannot litigate the interests of another.

It is difficult to guage from the opinion whether the Court would now be open to reconsidering that rule.  The Court does note the tradition that parents have a special interest in their children’s education, but this is a far cry from extending that right to representing the child in legal matters before the court, even those dealing with this fundamental right.

For more commentary, SCOTUSblog  covered this decision in depth, and also links to media coverage at NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere.

shlepping to a virtual St. Paddy’s parade


leprechan   Yes, this is totally off topic.  In case you’re also snowed-in this morning, commiserate with me over at f/k/a in wearing’ o’ the white.  It’s weblog recycling and self-help reminiscence of St. Patrick’s Days past.

paper terrorism, prisoners, and pro se mischief


A recent article in Future Trends in State Courts 2006, “The Anti-Government Movement Today”  (National Center for State Courts, by Charles A. Ericksen and Anne E. Skove), has a well-footnoted discussion of the malicious mischief being perpetrated in courts and other government bodies by the Anti-Government Movement.  The tactics amount to “paper terrorism” — “the use of fraudulent legal documents and filings, as well as the misuse of legitimate documents and filings, in order to intimidate, harass and coerce public officials, law enforcement officers and private citizens.” (from “Sovereign Citizen” Movement, at the Anti-Defamation League’s law enforcement website; and see our post “coordinated pro se tax-haters clogging up the courts, Oct. 13, 2006)

 bombFuseN In the Future Trends article, Ericksen and Stove explain Redemption Scams, which are bogus claims on money supposedly owed to individuals by the Government.  The Scams have become widespread, thanks to “self-help materials” being produced or used by jailed militia members in our nation’s prison’s (with “handbooks circulating among inmates, audiotapes and books available for purchase, seminars offered across the country, and information on the Internet”).  Thanks to basic human greed, the Redemption procedures are being tried by “a range of people, many of whom may not have ties to anti-government groups.”  The article also describes in detail a “Particularly troubling and difficult to stem” tide of filings with state corporation commissions. 

Noting that prison inmates pose special challenges (especially those already serving life without parole), the authors suggest coordinated efforts with courts, prosecutors, state agencies, and prison staff working together to identify and stem frivolous filings.  They also discuss concerns that acts of violence may again be use.  The article ends cautioning that “those responsible for court security must keep such groups and tactics on their radar screens, and be aware of these issues when planning security measures.”


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