The Texas Legal Services Center, or TLSC, a nonprofit organization funded by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, launched on April 24 the Virtual Court Access Project, a statewide pilot project aiming to improve low-income Texans’ ability to receive free legal services through deploying accessible, virtual court kiosks to communities.
The kiosks act as virtual legal aid centers where residents can access community resources such as connecting with courts and receiving legal aid services. Texas Supreme Court Justice Brett Busby, TLSC Executive Director Karen Miller, and Texas Access to Justice Foundation Executive Director Betty Balli Torres celebrated the launch of one of the state’s first virtual court kiosks in Austin at the Austin Public Library’s Little Walnut Creek Branch, located at 835 W. Rundberg Lane.
“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Texas implemented court proceedings in a virtual setting via video conferencing,” said TLSC Director Karen Miller in a press release. “While this innovative use of technology expands access to justice and increases court engagement, many Texans are left without the necessary resources to navigate court in a virtual setting and effectively participate. The virtual court kiosks will remove this barrier and serve to empower Texans across the state.”
The goal for the project is to bridge the digital divide through technology in a setting where users can easily find additional resources to help them solve their problems. At kiosks, Texans who lack dependable access to either a computer, smartphone, or reliable internet connection can effectively attend an online court hearing, receive free legal help, or find legal information and resources. All kiosks are accessible in English and Spanish. Users can receive technical assistance from online chat and phone services as well as step-by-step instructions on submitting evidence and attending virtual court. The kiosks will also offer a comprehensive collection of virtual court educational materials, online and accessible to Texans at any time, and live chat services on texaslawhelp.org, where users can chat with an attorney to receive free legal advice.
The statewide project will deploy 25 virtual court kiosks to every region of Texas to be installed inside community centers, shelters, clinics, libraries, and other high-traffic locations. With increased funding, TLSC plans to implement 250 additional kiosks across the state to benefit disadvantaged Texans.
For more information about the virtual court kiosks or to access legal help with TLSC, go to tlsc.org/kiosks.
From left: Texas Access to Justice Foundation Executive Director Betty Balli Torres, Texas Supreme Court Justice and TAJF liaison Brett Busby, and Executive Director of Texas Legal Services Center Karen Miller at a ribbon cutting ceremony opening one of the state’s first available virtual court kiosks, located at Little Walnut Creek Branch, Austin Public Library, at 835 W Rundberg Ln. Photo courtesy of Texas Access to Justice Foundation.