American Judges Association


Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 51, Issue 2 (2015)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


As the society around us evolves, so too has the notion of justice and the role of judges in the court system. The need for such an evolution has never been greater than now. As the number of court filings increases and the ranks of the self-represented continue to rise, there is an increased desire for courts to take an approach that more adequately addresses the circumstances of self-represented litigants. Yet, the tension between accommodating individuals who often lack basic knowledge about the court process and the traditional role of the judge as the objective, neutral arbiter remains. The struggle is born out daily in courtrooms across the country, in all types of cases, leaving judges with the challenge of how best to proceed. Fortunately, through a concept called neutral engagement, judges now have a way to accommodate the needs of self-represented litigants while maintaining neutrality throughout the process.