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San Bernardino Superior Court is $10,000 closer to judicial access thanks to fundraising lawyers.

Vision 2020 and Beyond, a project from the San Bernardino County Bar Association, presented the money to Presiding Judge Michael Sachs at the annual State of the Court Dec. 10 to support the court’s pilot self-help portal.

The money will buy computers and update Barstow Court’s facilities to create kiosks for self-represented litigants to access the online case portal Direct Access to Self Help (DASH). Sachs wants eventually to install kiosks in every courthouse.

“We have a significant amount of self-represented folks in San Bernardino County,” said Sachs.

Vision 2020 and Beyond

San Bernardino Superior Court has been underfunded for years, said family law attorney and Vision 2020 and Beyond Chair Joyce Holcomb.

“San Bernardino, we’re always last when it comes to money from the governor,” Holcomb said.

There had been a lot of attorney complaints over the lack of funding, and Holcomb finally “told the attorneys it’s time to shut up and do something about it,” she said.

The fundraiser started in the summer of 2020, has an initial goal of $250,000, and so far has raised $12,000, Holcomb said.

San Bernardino County Bar President Barbara Keough listed the project’s other goals, beyond the DASH funding, in the association’s October Bulletin: to donate 15 to 18 laptops for jurors, at a cost of $25,000; and to give each courtroom the technology to carry out remote proceedings through Microsoft Teams. That will take a large screen $10,000 television and two high definition $3,000 cameras, for each courtroom, at a total cost of $225,000, some of which will be taken up by the court. Two San Bernardino courtrooms have already been equipped with remote technology from a Microsoft grant, according to Keough.

Saving the biggest for last, the project’s next goal is the laptops at $25,000, said Holcomb. After they reach all three of their initial goals, the program will continue raising money to modernize the court, Holcomb said.

“It’s an increase in access to justice,” Holcomb said. “We’re going to help attorneys with this, but we’re going to help the community at large even more.”

“Imagine if you are a single parent, and you are in a custody suit, and you have to go to Barstow, and don’t have a vehicle,” Holcomb said.

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