Help in Filling Out Forms for Civil Cases

In today’s New York Times Opinion Pages Tina Rosenberg has an article, Legal Aid with a Digital Twist, that discusses apps that lawyers and people representing themselves are using to make it easier to fill out online legal forms. MDExpungement is an app used to determine whether a case is expungable.

With MDExpungement, entering a case number brings it up on Case Search. The software then determines whether the case is expungeable. If so, the program automatically transfers the information from Case Search to the expungement form. All that’s left is to print, sign and file it with the court.

In October 2015 a change in Maryland law made more cases eligible for expungement. Between then and March 2016, people filed 7,600 petitions to have their criminal records removed in Baltimore City District Court. More than two-thirds of them came from MDExpungement.

“With the ever-increasing amount of expungements we’re all doing, the app has just made it a lot easier,” said Mary-Denise Davis, a public defender in Baltimore. “I put in a case number and it fills the form out for me. Like magic.”

Rosenberg notes that access to technology such as this is important for people involved in civil cases where they may not have access to counsel.

ABA_map_civil_appt_authorityThe American Bar Association has a clickable map linking to “a research report detailing existing authority for appointment of counsel in various types of civil proceedings.”

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