Tough odds for defendants in Virginia’s lowest courts

When Virginians' unpaid bills, family crises or disputes with neighbors land them in one of the state's lowest courts, almost none of them has the help of a lawyer, a study of state records found.

News Story (Virginia)

Dave Ress
Daily Press (Newport News, VA)
April 5, 2018

Tags: Courts, Pro Se/Self-Help, Unrepresented litigants

Organizations mentioned/involved: Blue Ridge Legal Services (BRLS) (Virginia), Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC), National Center for State Courts (NCSC)


And when they face off against a lawyer on the other side, the odds are heavily stacked against them, the study found.

“Our lower courts are awash with unrepresented litigants,” John Whitfield, executive director of Blue Ridge Legal Services, told a special session of the Virginia Supreme Court Wednesday.

The result, he said, is “a dysfunctional system.”