Court clerks withhold information from non-lawyers that they routinely give to lawyers. If a lawyer's office calls to ask about a particular scheduling procedure, for example, the clerk provides all sorts of answers without thinking twice. But let a self-represented person ask for the same (or even much less) information, and it suddenly becomes legal advice. Many clerks' offices feel compelled to post signs saying, "We don't provide legal advice!" Most often, that means that they are unwilling to help unrepresented people get into court or respond to a lawsuit. (Imagine if IRS clerks refused to answer questions about how to file a tax return.)
When cases go to trial before a judge, there is no reason to insist on formal procedures or evidence rules. The judge should facilitate each side's presentation as is done in small claims court, rather than sit back and make the parties present their cases under arcane rules that take years to master. This approach would not violate due process, because judges would base their decisions on competent and relevant evidence.
Do I have the time and resources available to represent myself pro se? As you can see, there is a lot of learn before representing yourself at a child custody hearing. Parents considering pro se representation should carefully consider whether they have the time, determination, and undivided attention necessary to dedicate to this task before deciding to go it alone in court.
I would never say never and anything is possible in court. But I would say that it really hurts your chances a LOT. There are so many things that could go wrong or you might have an opportunity to win, but not recognize it because you do not know what to look for. If it is worth it to fight this, it is probably worth hiring an attorney. I am sorry to be the bearer of discouraging news. But litigation is always complicated and yours sounds more complex than normal.
Though arbitration proceedings are generally less formal than trials, most of the principles described in this book also apply to arbitration. As in a trial, you and your adversary present evidence to the arbitrator through your own testimony and the testimony of witnesses. Like a judge, an arbitrator evaluates the credibility and legal significance of evidence to decide whether you win or lose the case.
I'd also like to mention for those of you who are looking for Child Support help, this is not a good book for that. It has a tiny section on Child Support, then leaves you hanging. This may be because laws vary so much, but I thought I'd at least point it out. The book is more for general concepts, so the info falls short once you begin specializing in certain subject matters.
Unlike in the criminal context, there’s no federal constitutional right to counsel in civil cases. Civil cases can involve a range of critical issues, including housing, public benefits, child custody and domestic violence. And while some civil litigants may be entitled to counsel in certain jurisdictions, in most of these cases, people who cannot afford a lawyer will be forced to go it alone. Doing so may mean that they fail to make it through the process, have their case dismissed or lose what otherwise would have been a winning case.
Ted Bundy, a man convicted of murdering 3 women, and suspected of murdering 30 more, chose to represent himself on and off during two separate murder trials in Florida. Bundy appeared pro se at several hearings at the beginning of his 1979 murder trial, which was the first nationally televised trial in U.S. history. Many people believed Bundy’s insistence on taking the reins of his defense as a pro se litigant on many occasions to be hubris, as he believed he was more intelligent than investigators, prosecutors, and even defense attorneys on the case.
As a general rule, the judges surveyed stated that a pro se litigant must comply with the rules and orders of the court, [and] enjoy no greater rights than those who employ counsel. Although pro se pleadings are viewed with tolerance a pro se litigant, having chosen to represent himself, is held to the same standard of conduct and compliance with court rules, procedures, and orders as are members of the bar. A party’s pro se status does not require us or the trial court to assume he must be led by the hand through every step of the proceeding he initiated.
Filing of complaints, appearance, issuance of summonses, and procedures for collection, garnishments, citations, attachments, and the like, require the parties to pay fees and/or other "court cost". The Judge will generally order the party who loses to pay the "court costs". The defendant may have to pay plaintiff interest on the unpaid judgment at the statutory rate.
Additional studies that help determine the extent to which differences in access to counsel are responsible for the gaps in case outcomes between pro se and represented litigants, especially across a broader range of types of cases, would also be useful. If differences in access to counsel explain differences in case outcomes, the legal community should be more fearful that those without adequate resources are being deprived of meaningful access to the legal system. Moreover, if communities that lack the means to gain access to counsel lack effective legal recourse, despite sometimes having meritorious claims, then the legal community should also worry that bad actors can gain by depriving those communities of legal rights without facing the deterrent effects of litigation. Concerns about exploitative employers may be heightened if more than 2 percent of pro se plaintiffs have fully meritorious claims but only 2 percent of those plaintiffs can effectively seek relief due to difficulties navigating the legal system. Conversely, if lack of access to counsel does not explain poor case outcomes for pro se litigants, perhaps the legal community should focus on other considerations, such as making pro se litigants feel that they have received a fair chance in court and had their grievances heard, rather than trying to narrow the gaps in case outcomes or provide lawyers for more pro se litigants.
This Part presents an empirical analysis of pro se reforms made in federal district courts. It compares outcomes for pro se litigants in courts that have implemented reforms with outcomes for pro se litigants in courts that have not implemented reforms. The analysis discovers that outcomes are not substantially different in courts that have made these reforms. Hence, this Part suggests that pro se reforms in federal district courts have not impacted outcomes of pro se litigation despite evidence that clerks and judges in those courts believe the reforms are effective at achieving this goal.
132. See generally D. James Greiner, Dalié Jiménez, and Lois R. Lupica, Self-Help, Reimagined, 92 Ind L J 1119 (2017). It is difficult to synthesize their conclusions into a simple path toward providing pro se litigants with effective assistance, but they emphasize in particular the need for breaking legal problems down into their constituent components, including mental, psychological, and cognitive issues, as well as identifying and implementing relevant research from nonlegal literature to address those problems. They emphasize in particular that often the “relevant tasks have little to do with formal law.” Id at 1172.
Pro se legal representation (/ˌproʊ ˈsiː/ or /ˌproʊ ˈseɪ/) comes from Latin, translating to "for oneself" and literally meaning "on behalf of themselves", which basically means advocating on one's own behalf before a court or other tribunal, rather than being represented by a lawyer. This may occur in any court proceeding, whether one is the defendant or plaintiff in civil cases, and when one is a defendant in criminal cases. Pro se is a Latin phrase meaning "for oneself" or "on one's own behalf". This status is sometimes known as propria persona (abbreviated to "pro per"). In England and Wales the comparable status is that of "litigant in person".