Study finds ‘stunning’ justice gap in Virginia civil cases

The high volume of cases moves efficiently through courtrooms that often are largely empty - in large part because usually only the plaintiffs have a lawyer and often even the defendants do not appear and represent themselves.

News Story (Virginia)

Frank Green
Richmond Times-Dispatch
May 3, 2018

Tags: Access to Justice, Unrepresented litigants

Organizations mentioned/involved: Blue Ridge Legal Services (BRLS) (Virginia), Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Virginia Access to Justice Commission (VAJC), National Center for State Courts (NCSC)


In the state’s juvenile and domestic relations courts, neither party has a lawyer in almost 90 percent of the 75,000 custody, support and other contested adult civil cases.

“No one had any idea what the numbers really were until the study was concluded and the report was released and presented to the (Virginia) Supreme Court” last month, said John E. Whitfield, executive director of Blue Ridge Legal Services in Harrisonburg, which provides civil legal help to low-income residents of the Shenandoah and Roanoke valleys.