TULLAHOMA, Tenn., April 21, 2016 – Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands announced today that it has launched a new program with the Coffee County General Sessions Court to support pro se litigants. Pro se litigants are those who do not have an attorney, but rather represent themselves in court.
Through the program, a Legal Aid Society staff member from the Tullahoma office, which serves Coffee County among other local counties, will provide a free, monthly presentation to pro se litigants while the General Sessions Court is in recess from its civil docket. The program will begin by focusing on detainer actions (in which a person is being evicted from his or her home) and may expand to include presentations for other case types, such as collection actions.
The Legal Aid Society representative will provide educational materials, explain court procedures, and clarify the legal rights and responsibilities of renters and landlords.
“Most of the tenants who appear pro se are unaware of their rights and options. They often agree to a judgment without enough information to make a sound decision. Many others may assert a defense, but are not prepared to do so effectively,” said Rae Anne Seay, an attorney with the Tullahoma office of Legal Aid Society. “Our new program will help tenants decide whether or not to ask for a continuance so they can have time to consult with an attorney prior to settling or contesting the case.”
“Legal Aid Society’s initiative to educate our pro se litigants will pave a smoother road to justice here in Coffee County,” said Judge Jere Ledsinger of Coffee County’s General Sessions and Juvenile Court Part II. “It’s critical that people understand their rights and the rights of others. They need to be able to grasp the issues at hand and know where to turn if they decide they need assistance. This program will be an asset to our citizens, and I am thankful Legal Aid Society is stepping in to help.”
While Legal Aid Society will not directly represent pro se tenants through this program, tenants will have the opportunity to speak with a lawyer for free within just a few days. Legal Aid Society’s presentations will typically occur on Wednesdays prior to the Coffee County Bar Association’s legal help clinics, held on the second Saturday of each month.
Individuals who need free legal assistance can also apply for Legal Aid Society’s representation and counsel by calling 866-898-0171 (or local number 931-455‐7000) or by visiting the Tullahoma office at 123 NW Atlantic St., Tullahoma, Tenn. 37388.
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands advocates for fairness and justice under the law. The non-profit law firm offers free civil legal representation and educational programs to help people in its region receive justice, protect their well-being and support opportunities to overcome poverty. It serves 48 counties from offices in Clarksville, Columbia, Cookeville, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Oak Ridge and Tullahoma. Legal Aid Society is funded in part by United Way. Learn more at www.las.org, or by following the firm on Facebook.