New Self-Help Center to Open in Oakland

As part of their commitment to improving access to justice, Alameda County Superior Court officials say they expect to open a new self-help center at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland in February.

They say the new branch will join the self-help center which already is in operation at the Hayward Hall of Justice and provide a much-needed alternative to people who live in the northern part of the county.

The court previously offered a self-help branch at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse near Lake Merritt in Oakland but budgetary constraints forced the closure of that branch in 2016.

Court officials say they have the money for the new branch thanks in large part to $19.1 million in new funding specifically directed toward trial court self-help needs that was included in the 2018-2019 California budget.

"As part of budget discussions with the state Judicial Council and the other branches of government last year, our court identified the re-establishment of a self-help center presence in Oakland as one of our highest priorities," Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill said in a statement.

"We appreciate that Gov. Brown included robust new self-help funding in the budget so that we could make our plan a reality and better serve the court users of Alameda County," Carville said.

The new branch on the third floor of the Wiley Manuel Courthouse at 661 Washington St. in Oakland will be open for a walk-in clinic Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Court officials say the number of people assisted each day will be capped at 45 in order to ensure that each customer gets the best possible service.

Staff in the Oakland branch will provide assistance with unlawful detainers, small claims matters, restraining orders, name- and gender-change petitions and guardianships.

Assistance for all family law-related matters, including child custody and dissolution of marriage, will continue to be provided only in Hayward.

To facilitate the opening of the Oakland branch and to ensure a consistent level of service in both the northern and southern parts of the county, the court will make changes to the functioning of the Hayward branch beginning on Jan. 2.

One of those changes is that morning drop-in service in Hayward will be limited to 100 customers per day.

In addition, the self-help center in Hayward will close at noon every day to ensure that the court can continue to support its robust schedule of afternoon workshops.

The exact date of the grand opening of the Oakland branch will be announced in the near future.

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