(Editor’s Note: The above clip is a view of top headlines from the morning of June 28, 2023.)

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – According to an announcement from the Texas Legal Services Center, Amarillo’s Guyon Saunders Resource Center has become home to one of the state’s first virtual court kiosks aimed at providing free legal services to community members.

The TLSC described that the kiosk is part of a statewide pilot project, the Virtual Court Access Project, intended to improve low-income Texans’ ability to receive free legal services with accessible, physical virtual court kiosks acting as legal aid centers in high-traffic locations.

In Amarillo, for example, the Guyon Saunders Resource Center already stands as a major community center for referrals, housing assistance, transportation assistance, legal aid, and other free resources. Its participation in the pilot program appears set to further expand its already-standing legal aid services.

Community members who are unable to access a computer, smartphone, or reliable internet service will be able to attend online court hearings, receive free legal help, or find legal information and resources at the kiosks in both English and Spanish.

“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of Texas implemented court proceedings in a virtual setting via video conferencing,” Karen Miller, executive director of Texas Legal Services Center, said. “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 TLSC said that those using the kiosks will receive technical assistance from online chat and phone services, alongside step-by-step instructions on submitting evidence and attending virtual court. The kiosks are also expected to offer a collection of virtual court education materials and LiveChat services on TexasLawHelp.org, where users can chat with an attorney and receive free legal advice.

TLSC said that the statewide pilot is planned to deploy 25 virtual court kiosks around Texas to be installed inside community centers, shelters, clinics, libraries and other high-traffic locations. With increased funding, TLSC aims to implement 250 additional kiosks across the state.

“While the kiosk itself is a useful tool, its placement within community centers provides a multiplier effect for legal services.” Miller said. “One of the exciting aspects of this project is the community partnership with the host site. Vulnerable Texans will benefit from accessing legal aid right inside their community center, where they will find all-inclusive services to help them solve the many problems that accompany legal issues.”

More information on the TLSC can be found here, as well as more information on its funding organization, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. Further information on the kiosk project can be found here.

For the latest Amarillo news and regional updates, check with MyHighPlains.com and tune in to KAMR Local 4 News at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 p.m. and Fox 14 News at 9:00 p.m. CST.

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