Court Help v. Court Advice

As you prepare to go to court, you will have questions and want advice, but before asking court personnel (who include: court clerks, law librarians, probation officers) it is important to know what questions they can and cannot answer.

Cans and Cannots of Court Help

Permitidos y no permitidos del tribunal

These are the things court clerks, law librarians, probation officers, etc… are able to give information on:

  • Court operations
  • court rules, procedure, and practices
  • legal aid, lawyer referrals, and other programs
  • court schedules
  • case files
  • court forms
  • deadlines

These are the things court clerks, law librarians, probation officers, etc… are NOT able tell you:

  • whether you have a case
  • if your forms are correct
  • what to say on forms or in court
  • their opinion on your case
  • what to research or how to apply it
  • how to reach the judge
  • alter court documents

They can explain and answer general questions about how the court works.

For example:

  • What should I wear to court?
  • Can I bring my kids to court?
  • What does the term plaintiff mean?

They are able to give you general information about court rules, procedures, and practices, like:

  • Where can I find the Arizona statutes on guardianship?
  • Do I have to stand when I speak?
  • How do I serve this form?

Court personnel can provide you with contact information for referral services, legal aid programs, and other services that you may not be aware of or you can visit the Legal Aid Resource page.

Court personnel can assist you with locating the court calendar and provide information on how to start the request for a hearing.

If you are looking for online calendars, you can search by courthouse name on the Court Calendar page.

Court personnel cannot provide legal advice.

They are not able to tell you whether or not you have a case, how the law applies to your case, how the judge will rule, or whether you should take your case to court.

Case files that are not restricted can be discussed, but they cannot provide advice on what you should do next.

They are able to define terms that you may not understand, instruct you on how to pay a fine, or tell you about the next step in the process.

Law libraries, self-help centers, and court clerks have court forms, packets, and instructions available for various case types.

Some of these forms or packets may cost a small fee, depending on the jurisdiction and type of form.  Certain forms are also available in Spanish.

Court staff can provide answers when you are asking general questions about deadlines.

Deadlines for filing, service, answering, and responding all differ depending on the court where the case is located and case type.

When filling out court forms, they are not able to tell you what you should say or if they were done correctly.

If you are unsure, ask if there are instructions available for the forms you are using.

Going to court can be intimidating, but court personnel cannot tell you what to say or how to form your statements.

Remember – stick to the facts of the case, not your feelings.

They are not able to give you their opinion about what will happen if you bring your case to court.

They cannot make predictions on outcomes or provide any legal advice.

The self-help centers and law libraries cannot tell you what to research or what the information you find means in regards to your case.

They are able to direct you to rules of procedure and other research materials.

Judges cannot be approached about cases outside of the designated court hearing time/date.

The court personnel cannot talk to the judge on your behalf or pass any information to the judge for you.  They also cannot get the judge for you so you can speak to them.

Court staff cannot alter court documents.

If you made a mistake or think that the other side has made a mistake, there are forms that can be filed or arguments that can be made in the hearing.


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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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