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Deborah Chase
Director California Civil Justice Institute
Dr. Deborah Chase is an attorney with a doctorate in psychology. Formerly with the California Judicial Council, she has written and taught extensively on court technology, operations, and pro se litigation.

Deborah J. Chase


Dr. Deborah J. Chase is the Director of the California Civil Justice Institute (CCJI). She consults with both government and private entities on civil justice systems, court management of pro se caseflow, court case management technology, and business office operations for general civil cases, family law, domestic violence, and child support enforcement cases. She frequently sits as a temporary judge in the Alameda County Superior Court hearing domestic cases.  Dr. Chase is a family law specialist certified by the State Bar of California. She also holds a doctorate in clinical psychology.

Immediately prior to her work at CCJI, she served as a senior attorney for the Judicial Council of California, Administrative Office of the Courts where she worked to implement court based self-help centers throughout the state of California, and initiate statewide caseflow management procedures in domestic cases. Dr. Chase has published articles and presented nationally and internationally on pro se jurisprudence, and served as a senior legal expert on family court mediation in the Egyptian family courts.

In Egypt Dr. Chase worked as a legal expert with USAID and the Egyptian Ministry of Justice on a collaborative project to evaluate Egypt’s Family Justice Project and make recommendation for future priorities. Evaluation of this new family mediation initiative included extensive review of legal and administrative documentation and in-person interviews with members of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, numerous local NGOs, and all project participants in three pilot regions of Giza, Port Said and Minya including judges, court administrators, family mediators, administrative staff, lawyers and court users.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Access to Justice
  2. Case Management
  3. Child Custody
  4. Court Business Operations
  5. Court Case Management Technology
  6. Court Systems Research
  7. Courtroom Operations
  8. Domestic Violence
  9. Family Law
  10. Judicial Education
  11. Pro Se Litigation
  12. Self-Help Centers
  13. Self-Represented Litigants
  14. Substance Abuse
  15. Title IVD Child Support

Selected Presentations

Paper Presentations:

  • Deborah Chase & Bonnie Hough (2011), “Pro Se Litigation” American Judges Association Annual Conference, San Diego, CA
  • Deborah J. Chase, “Pro Se Assistance and Procedural Justice”(2003) Psychology and Law International Conference, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
  • Deborah J. Chase & Peggy Hora, “Update of Study of Judicial Satisfaction and Therapeutic Jurisprudence” (2003) Paper presented at Psychology and Law International Conference, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
  • Deborah J. Chase & Peggy Hora, “Further Implication of Judicial Satisfaction and Therapeutic Jurisprudence” (2001) Second International Conference on Therapeutic Jurisprudence, Glenn Weaver Institute, University of Cincinnati
  • Peggy Hora & Deborah J. Chase “The Court as Therapeutic Agent: Judge, Heal Thyself,  (1999) Paper presented at Psychology and Law International Conference, Trinity College, Dublin Ireland

Training Presentations

  • 3/13      Status of Self-Help Technology at the State level in California, Conference on Self-Help Technology, National Center for State Courts, Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
  • 1/12      Live Testimony at Family Law Hearings, State Bar of California, Family Law Section, Webinar course, San Francisco, CA.
  • 12/11    Managing Live Testimony at Family Law Hearings, Family Law Institute, Administrative Office of the Courts/CJER, San Francisco, CA.
  • 6/10      Family Law Case flow Management, Beyond The Bench Conference, Administrative Office of the Courts, San Diego, CA.
  • 5/09      Problem Solving Courts and Family Law, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, 46th Annual International Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • 4/08      Ethical Guidelines for the Operation of Court Self-Help Centers, California Judicial Council, Regional Trainings for Family Court Attorneys, San Francisco, CA & Sacramento, CA.
  • 5/07      Court-Based Assistance To Pro Se Litigants in Family Law, ABA Summit on Unified Family Courts, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 11/07    How to Handle Pro Se Cases in the Courtroom, National Judicial Conference on Leadership for State Courts, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA.
  • 9/06      Steps in Establishing Court-Based Self-Help Centers, Midwest Regional Conference on Self-Represented Litigants, American Judicature Society, Des Moines, Iowa.
  • 6/05      The Use of Psychological Experts in Domestic Violence Cases, State Bar of California, Pathways to Justice Conference for Legal Services, San Francisco, CA.
  • 2/05      Institutionalizing Collaborative Justice Principles in California’s Courts, Western Society of Criminology, 32nd Annual, Meeting, Bringing Research into Practice, Honolulu, HI.
  • 4/04      Advanced Child Custody and Domestic Violence, California Judicial Education and Research, Family Law Institute, Los Angeles, CA.
  • 8/03      Understanding Psychological Testing as Used in Child Custody Evaluations, Contra Costa Bar Association, Family Law Section, Walnut Creek, CA/
  • 6/02      Mental Health Diagnoses for Parents: Issues for Lawyers and Judges, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, 39th Annual Conference, Kona, Hawaii
  • 5/01      Domestic Violence: What Every Judge Should Know, Domestic Violence Institute, California Judicial Education and Research, Judicial Council of California, Los Angeles, CA.
  • 4/01      Evaluating the Evaluators: How to Challenge a Child Custody Evaluation, Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, San Francisco, CA.
  • 1998-2001 Civil & Criminal Domestic Violence, B.E. Witkin Judicial College of California, California Judicial Education and Research, Berkeley, CA
  • 10/00    Technological Developments for Court Based Pro Se Assistance, State Justice Institute, Conference on Pro Se Assistance, San Francisco, CA.

Selected Articles

  • Deborah Chase, “Pro Se Litigation”, Chapter in The Improvement of the Administration of Justice, 8th Edition, American Bar Association, Judicial Division, in progress
  • Julia Roig, Deborah J. Chase, Shareef Ghoneim, “USAID Family Justice Project: The Role of NGOs in Egypt,” June 10, 2009 DPK, San Francisco
  • Julia Roig, Deborah J. Chase, Shareef Ghoneim, “Family Justice Project Evaluation Report,”June 7, 2009, USAID Contract Task No. 263-I-03-06-00019-00, DPK, San Francisco
  • Deborah J. Chase & Peggy F. Hora, “The Best Seat in the House: Court Assignment and Judicial Satisfaction.” 47Family Court Review2, April 2009, p. 209-239
  • Susan Ledray & Deborah J. Chase, “Where We Are, and Where We Should Be Going:Changing the Courtroom Environment” National Summit on Pro Se Litigation, Chicago, March 2005,
  • Peggy Fulton Hora & Deborah J. Chase, “Judicial Satisfaction When Judging in a Therapeutic Key” Contemporary Issues in Law 7:1 (2003/2004).
  •  Deborah J. Chase, “Pro Se Justice and Unified Family Courts” (2003) 37 Fam. L.Q. 403
  • Deborah J. Chase, “Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Judicial Satisfaction”, (2002) unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA
  • Deborah J. Chase, Sue Alexander & Barbara Miller, “Community Courts and Family Law” (2000) 2 Journal of the Center for Families, Children and Courts 37
  • Frances Harrison, Deborah J. Chase, L. Thomas Surh, “California’s Family Law Facilitator Program: A New Paradigm for the Courts” (2000) 2 Journal of the Center For Families, Children & the Courts 61
  • Deborah J. Chase & Peggy Hora, “Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Judicial Satisfaction” (2000) 37 Courts Review 12
  • Deborah J. Chase, “Substance Abuse, Abusive Behavior and High-Conflict Divorcing Families: a review of case files, (1996) unpublished manuscript. The Wright Institute at Berkeley, CA
  • Deborah J. Chase & Lynn E. O’ Connor, ‘The Psychology of Child Custody Mediation:  the roles of altruism and guilt in custody disputes.” (1997) unpublished paper

Honors and Awards

  • 2013 AWARD OF MERIT – The California Access to Justice Commission and Legal Aid Association of California
  • CLAY AWARD – CALIFORNIA LAWYER OF THE YEAR – 2002 — California Lawyer Magazine, Public Interest Law

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Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.

Eleanor Roosevelt

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