University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School maintains an ardent commitment to doing our part to engage with our judiciary to help cultivate a body of judges who are highly ethical and knowledgeable about cutting-edge topics of the law.
On July 28, Professor of Practice and Director of Civil Practice Clinic and Legislative Clinic Lou Rulli conducted ethics training for more than 300 state trial judges as part of the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges. The session, entitled “Self-Represented Litigants and Access to Justice,” examined provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct that guide judges in meeting their ethical obligations of impartiality and fairness to all litigants, especially when a litigant is not represented by counsel.
As the number of self-represented litigants continues to rise across all civil courts, this session reviewed national developments among a growing number of states that include suggested reasonable accommodations in their ethical codes to ensure that the voice of each self-represented litigant is heard in the courtroom.
The session included video vignettes written and filmed at Penn Carey Law with the assistance of law students, faculty, and staff that presented common ethical issues that arise in the courtroom when a party is not represented by counsel.
A panel of distinguished judges from across the Commonwealth then commented on the issues presented by the vignettes and offered varying judicial approaches to addressing those issues. Participating with Rulli in this presentation were President Judge Honorable Idee C. Fox (Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County), President Judge Honorable Stephen P.B. Minor (Court of Common Pleas of Potter County), Judge Honorable Royce L. Morris (Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County), and President Judge Honorable Maureen A. Skerda (Court of Common Pleas of Warren & Forest Counties).