Going to civil court without attorney representation can be a daunting prospect. Those who cannot afford a lawyer often face this challenge without knowing anything about the law or court processes. The result is confused people showing up to court unprepared. The lack of preparation causes delays and frustration. The Civil Self-Help Center helps those who represent themselves in court navigate the system and provides free forms.

Presiding Civil Division District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez is being honored with the Clark County Law Foundation Liberty Bell Award, for her work to establish the Civil Self-Help Center. The award ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 28 at 3 p.m., at the Las Vegas replica of the Liberty Bell (located at the corner of Fourth St. and Lewis Ave.) at Centennial Plaza. The Liberty Bell Award recognizes individuals in the community who uphold the rule of law, contribute to good government within the community, stimulate a sense of civic responsibility, and encourage respect for the law in the courts.

The non-profit Legal Aid Center operates the Self-Help Center at the Regional Justice Center in cooperation with the Eighth Judicial District Court. Since Dec. 2009, more than 200,000 people have used the Self-Help Center to help them prepare for court. A new website was also recently launched, that offers how-to tips, forms and info on going solo in court at 

“I am honored to be a recipient of the Liberty Bell Award, for playing a role in the Civil Law Self-Help Center. The Self-Help Center gives those who represent themselves in civil court cases a place to go to get needed forms and other resources. The services provided by the Self-Help Center, save a lot of time and frustration, and improve the court process,” said Judge Gonzalez.

Judge Gonzalez is the 2014-2015 president of the American College of Business Court Judges. She also serves as a Master Emeritus of the Nevada American Inn of Court; an organization that works to enhance the practical skills and ethical responsibility of Nevada’s lawyers. She is committed to the provision of legal services to all members of the community.

“The Civil Law Self-Help Center has been a big success, and Judge Gonzalez played a big role in that success. We on the District Court bench, appreciate how the Self-Help Center benefits the community and the court, and we are proud that Judge Gonzalez is receiving this well-deserved recognition,” said District Court Chief Judge David Barker.

The Annual Liberty Bell Award, a partnership between the Clark County Law Foundation’s Let Freedom Ring Committee and the City of Las Vegas, has been recognizing and honoring outstanding citizens since 1983. The Clark County Law Foundation is dedicated to providing community service programs throughout Southern Nevada that are integrated with law-related education.

Civil Law Self-Help Center website