For many, walking into the Frederick County Courthouse can be a daunting experience.
“Courthouses, unless you’re a lawyer, are terrible places to be. Typically if you’re coming to court, it’s because something unpleasant in your life,” said supervising attorney for the new Self-Help Center, Alyssa Patzoldt.
But with the opening of the new Self-Help Center, officials are hoping to ease tensions and help.
“Individuals that are coming to court may not have the ability to afford council or confused about what their rights are. This provides people with brief legal advice by trained attorneys,” explained chief judge for the District County of Maryland, Hon. John Morrissey.
Members of the public can simply walk into the center, check-in, and be able to speak one-on-one with an attorney.
“For a lot of legal issues that are complex you really need someone to sit down and look at your papers. We review documents, we can people draft pleadings if they need to file something in the court,” Patzoldt explained.
The center is included in the District Court of Maryland budget, alongside four other centers throughout the state. But unlike the other centers, the Frederick location will not only help with district court cases, but also those in circuit court.
“Circuit court cases can be more complex. They often involve more money,” Patzoldt said.
Two attorneys currently staff the center, and while it’s typical for them to deal with many cases a day, Patzoldt says her job goes a long way for those without a legal degree.
“To see someone that’s coming in in distress, and I’m able to just to be able to break things down and explain it to them, and give them the tools to that they need to go forward, is extraordinarily gratifying,” Patzoldt said.
The Self-Help Center is available Monday through Friday. For more information visit https://www.mdcourts.gov/legalhelp/districtctselfhelpctr