Self represented litigants, lawyers and other members of the public (hereinafter referred to as "Users") who wish to use the services of the Self Help Center and Law Library (hereinafter referred to as "The Center") must follow the guidelines that have been set forth by the Court. Each person who enters the Center must be respectful and courteous to staff, court staff, the bailiffs, and each other.
In October 2018 the Law Library incorporated the Family Law Self Help Center which strives to meet the needs of unrepresented litigants in family law cases. Forms are available and limited procedural assistance is available for family law cases and some civil matters.
Please abide by the following while in the Center:
- The Center and its staff do not dispense legal advice.
- We have a list of legal referrals we give to individuals who come in seeking legal advice.
- Please do not interrupt a conversation with another user/staff member to give your opinion or legal advice on the circumstances of their case for any reason.
- The computers are for legal research, case form retrieval and forms completion. Legal research means you are searching, inquiring and/or examining case law, court rules of procedure, law reviews or other legal journals/resources. A subscription to Fastcase is available for use while on these computers. Staff can assist with general research assistance. Wifi is Unplugged Guest; no password is needed. Social Media, video-sharing websites, such as YouTube, and/or similar websites are restricted and prohibited from use on ALL PUBLIC computers.
- Using the computers is a PRIVILEGE not a right. If Center staff believe you are not conducting legal research or using the computers in good faith, we reserve the right to ask you to leave.
- In the event all computers are being used, staff will ask the user who has been on the computer the longest amount of time to finish what they are working on and discontinue use of the computer. The Center staff will document arrival time, departure time and services utilized for ALL users.
- The Center is a quiet workspace. Please be aware that staff and other individuals are working at all times.
- So as not to disturb other users or staff no music is allowed, including streaming from any devices.
- Absolutely no shouting at any time, for any reason.
- Please do not interrupt other users or staff.
- If you need to have a conversation with another user, please take it outside the Center.
- Turn your phone off or put it on vibrate. If you need to take a phone call, take it outside.
- The Center reserves the right to update computers at any time. Regular software updates and updates to desktop icons will be made.
- Do not bring food or beverage into the Center. No chewing gum or tobacco products are allowed.
- Do not ask Center staff to watch your belongings if you leave the Center briefly. Center staff are NOT responsible and will not be held accountable if your belongings are lost or stolen.
- Printing is free in the Center, so long as individuals are printing legal research. The Center staff reserves the right to ask you to stop printing and review what you need to print if we believe you are abusing this service AT ANY TIME.
- The Center is located in the Judge Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center and subject to security screenings and surveillance conducted by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office. Cameras are monitoring the Center at all times.
- In the event of a staffing shortage, the Center will close daily for lunch. Signs will be placed around the Center by staff notifying users of closure times.
- Users are expected to read and comply with all signs located in the Center, which explain our policies and are also incorporated in this document. Policies are subject to change.
- The Center opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes promptly at 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. We are closed for all Court holidays.
If users do not follow the above Outline of Services and Rules of Use, the following consequences will be implemented:
- The first violation will result in a verbal warning.
- The second violation will result in privileges being suspended for the remainder of that day and the entire following day; as well as a written warning. The user must sign an acknowledgment including the date/time they can return.
- After the second violation, any further violations will result in suspension from the Center for a minimum of 30 days.
- After 30 days, in order to resume access to the Center, the User should contact the Center staff via mail or electronic mail and request to resume access to the Center. Center Staff will need to get the approval of the Trial Court Administrator, or in his/ her absence the Chief Deputy Trial Court Administrator to determine whether this individual should continue to be able to use the Center's services. The User will be notified of their determination by mail or electronic mail. The User must acknowledge that any further violations may result in permanent suspension of privileges to use the Center.