The mission of the Self Help Center is to provide increased access to the legal system for self-represented individuals by providing information, education, supreme court and circuit approved forms, community and state referrals, pro bono and other legal referrals, and other support services with certain civil law matters regardless of income, or citizenship. The Self Help Center is physically located in Sarasota County but services are available to all residents of the 12th Judicial Circuit.

We provide the following services:

  • Explain court process and procedures
  • Assist with the identification of legal forms required by the court
  • Notify parties when additional information or forms are needed before the next court event can be set
  • Refer individuals to pro bono and other legal referrals
  • The staff at the center cannot provide legal advice;
  • The staff cannot tell you whether or not you should file a case, cannot tell you what form to file, cannot explain the meaning of terms of forms;
  • The staff cannot give you their opinion about your case or predict how the judge/magistrate might rule;
  • The staff cannot speak to a judge/magistrate on your behalf;
  • The staff cannot tell you what words to use on your court papers or at your court hearings.

The Lee E. Haworth Self Help Center and Law Library is limited in the types of cases that staff can assist with. However, the law library computers are available to anyone who would like to do legal research.

Currently, the Center only carries forms and can assist procedurally with the following types of cases:

  • Family Law, excluding Domestic Violence (Staff will provide referrals to other providers for Domestic Violence matters)
  • Small Claims (Civil Claims from $0.01 - $8,000.00)
  • County Civil Forms (Claims from over $8,000.00 -$50,000.00) very limited resources

The Center is unable to assist with forms and procedural matters regarding the following types of cases:

  • Criminal Law – both County Criminal and Felony Criminal
  • Circuit Civil (Claims above $50,000.00)
  • Complex Probate and Guardianship Matters
  • Dependency
  • Domestic Violence
  • Juvenile Court

The Judge Lee E. Haworth Self Help Center and Law Library has a law library that is open to any member of the public that wishes to conduct legal research. There is no fee to use the library.

Services include:

The law library has three (3) public computers available for legal research or case forms completion via the internet and a subscription to Fastcase. Legal Research means you are searching, inquiring and/or examining case law, court rules of procedure, law reviews or other legal journals/resources. There is no charge for using the computers or for printing paper; however staff do have the right to limit computer time to thirty (30) minutes if other patrons are waiting. Staff absolutely reserve the right to ask patrons to stop using the computers if staff makes the determination a patron is not conducting legal research.

The library has access to subscriptions, such as Fastcase. The library also is home to numerous books on federal and state rules of court, as well as the Florida Statutes. The library also has access to the Sarasota Clerk of Courts public access records search website. Staff will happily aid in research by locating these resources and giving a brief tutorial in how they function. Staff are not permitted to assist patrons in performing legal research, give legal advice, legal opinions, or provide legal assistance in any manner.

Printer, photocopying and scanning is available for use at the library. There is no current cost for printing, however patrons are asked to be mindful of the amount of paper they print so the library can continue to offer this service for free.

For those filing approved forms from the Florida Supreme Court, 12th Judicial Circuit or Sarasota Clerk of Court, staff will provide free notary services of forms.

Related Links

PLEASE NOTE: the Manatee County Law Library is not affiliated with the Sarasota Self Help Center and Law Library.