Checklist of essential resources for access to law

Justification of the contents of the checklist

To adequately represent oneself in court, the individual must have the sufficient degree of comfort to face the intimidating atmosphere of the courtroom; have been given the time and resources to research and familiarise themselves with the case. Moreover, the litigant must maintain the sense of comfort and self-respect to then speak confidently to the magistrate and the jury.The achievement of the sense of comfort might demand the possession of some personal belongings by the litigant; these items might be of religious or symbolic nature.

Self-representation from a cell checklist:

  •   Access to pen – to write notes, plot drafts, write letters
  • Access to paper – to record drafts, thoughts and letters
  •   Access to a computer – to research, to gain access to databases, legal websites, records, write digitally.
  •   Access to light – to write, read
  •   Internet access – to have a broader, up to date ability to gain relevant information about law case, court proceedings, records.
  • Access to court transcripts – to maintain the sense of clarity of the case; to be aware of any directions of appeal and self-defence that could be used by the litigant in the court.
  •   Copy of the latest version of legislation – to be aware of one’s own rights in court and the country of imprisonment. 
  •   Prisoner’s own legal transcript – to prepare appropriate defence based on previous proceedings in court.
  •   Access to uniform civil procedure rules – to become familiar with the rules of civil court.
  •   Access to court-specific practices and procedures – to familiarise with the way that specific courts run their procedures.
  •   Access to NSW Case law – to find the record of Judgements and Decisions made in court regarding similar cases to that of the litigant.
  •   Access to a Translator* – to conduct their message accurately
  •   Access to a Solicitor – to receive appropriate advice
  •   Personal belongings to sustain comfort: religious, sentimental and symbolic items like pictures of their family.

Factors motivating this Checklist:

This Checklist should be a compilation of checklists developed in the light of Australian laws as well as laws established overseas; specifically, we want to be looking into US and UK developments.

Moreover, the scope of this checklist may encompass your subjecting insight into the matter, specifically what YOU would need to have when placed in a cell and in the position of representing yourself in the court. Consider how you are feeling and what you are thinking of employing to convince the court of innocence when put under such circumstance. 

Lastly, this document should be formatted as a letter; my personal understanding is that justification and reasons for these items should be provided; this document should convince the person receiving to enforce the appropriate measures for the prisoner to receive their items.

Following are the pathways which may serve as a guide:

Argument 1 equality of representation: the prisoner should have similar conditions that the lawyer would representing them

Argument 2, equality of opportunity: the prisoner should be compensated in their disadvantage in the face of court; for example: a person who has trouble speaking English should be provided with a translator not only in the court but in the cell too.

Argument 3: the prisoner should have the self-care available to reinforce the psychological resilience when facing the court

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