Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act Evaluation

Status: current


Project Description: California Assembly Bill 590 establishes a pilot project for legal services to be provided to low-income parties in civil matters involving critical livelihood issues, so that judicial decisions are made on the basis of the necessary information and the parties have an adequate understanding of the orders to which they are subject. Nine pilot projects in seven counties have been selected by the California Judicial Council. All projects include one or more legal services providers working in collaboration with their local superior courts. Pilot sites offer services in housing, custody and probate matters by establishing new systems in the court, such as early settlement calendars, specialty housing staff, and new mediation services.

Research Question: What impact do legal services under the Shriver Act have for individual clients (e.g., increased ability to stay in housing, improvement in quality of visitation orders and a greater sense of overall fairness and procedural justice), the courts (e.g., increased efficiencies in processing cases through the system) and the taxpayer through reduced costs for a number of issues (e.g., homeless shelter use, court costs and social safety net services utilization)?

Project Design: This project involves a process evaluation across nine sites, and an outcome and cost evaluation at three sites. Process information is gathered through a series of key stakeholder interviews, client interviews, as well as the implementation of a cross-site database to record project activity data and service provision. The outcome and cost evaluations will occur at two project sites and will involve random assignment of participants and comparisons of the resultant intervention and control groups. Outcome and cost data will be generated through documentation of case information (program and service data), client interviews, and the review of administrative data (including court records).

Funding Source: Judicial Council of California through supplemental court filing fees in accordance with California Assembly Bill 590, the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act

Start Date: June 2012

Project Team

Principal Investigator & Project Director

Kelly Jarvis, Ph.D.

Project Staff

Theresa Herrera Allen, Ph.D.

Timothy Ho, Ph.D.

Lisa M. Lucas, B.A.

Charlene Zil, M.P.A.

Expert Consultant

Michael Finigan, Ph.D.