Some pro se litigants who are federal prisoners are subject to the Prison Litigation Reform Act. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asserted: ""For over thirteen years, the Prison Litigation Reform Act has denied access to the courts to countless prisoners who have become victims of abuse, creating a system of injustice that denies redress for prisoners alleging serious abuses, barriers that don't apply to anyone else. It is time for Congress to pass legislation to restore the courts as a needed check on prisoner abuse."[36][37] 54% of judges responding to a Federal Judicial Conference survey use videoconferences for prisoner pro se hearings.[16]:29
Great advice! Every point you have made about lawyers and their tricks, I have experienced. One of the greatest failures of the lower courts is the acceptance of inadequate documentation because they go unchallenged. The court is not going to do your work or come to your rescue as you may think. If the document is a not original or is forged, it is up to you to make the case. Even if the judge can see that a document may have an obvious forgery, you must still make the case against it.
Great advice! Every point you have made about lawyers and their tricks, I have experienced. One of the greatest failures of the lower courts is the acceptance of inadequate documentation because they go unchallenged. The court is not going to do your work or come to your rescue as you may think. If the document is a not original or is forged, it is up to you to make the case. Even if the judge can see that a document may have an obvious forgery, you must still make the case against it.
Clarence Earl Gideon was too poor to afford an attorney and thus proceeded pro se in his criminal trial in Florida in 1961. He was found guilty and subsequently appealed. He was appointed counsel (his attorney, Abe Fortas, later became a Supreme Court Justice) when the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court; the court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that the right to counsel means that states are required to provide counsel free of charge to indigent defendants in all criminal cases and that Florida's failure to appoint such counsel in Gideon's case constituted a violation of that right.[91] On remand, Gideon was represented in the new trial, and was acquitted.

I’ve filed and served a request for admissions which the Defendant”s attorney failed to answer within the 30 day period allotted by rule here in Oregon. The rules also state that a failure to answer the request will result in admission of the answers requested. From what I can glean from the rules, I now need to file a “Motion To Determine Sufficiency”. If I fail to file such a motion, can I simply ask the court to declare, at the outset of trial, that the defendant, by failing to answer the admissions request, has in fact admitted certain facts which I no longer must prove at trial?
You can contact a lawyer referral service to be connected with an experienced lawyer in your area. In Chicago and Cook County, you can contact the Chicago Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at (312) 554-2001 or https://lrs.chicagobar.org/. Outside of Cook County, you can contact the Illinois State Bar Association IllinoisLawyerFinder at (800) 922-8757 or https://www.isba.org/public/illinoislawyerfinder. 

Gideon, the movement has generally focused on providing counsel for indigent parties in proceedings involving threats to their basic needs.47 From the movement’s inception, commentators have been divided over the merits of civil Gideon. Advocates have put forth a number of arguments in favor of civil Gideon. They have argued that representation in civil litigation secures constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of law, is necessary to ensure fair trials, is “sound social policy,” and helps ensure more consistent outcomes for defendants.48 Critics have countered with both direct refutations and alternative suggestions. They have argued that Gideon wasn’t that effective in aiding criminal defendants, so civil Gideon would not be either; civil Gideon would be ineffective notwithstanding the effectiveness of Gideon; civil


Settle! Of course, given the unique obstacles involved with litigating against a pro se party—including the absence of the important buffer between the party and his or her emotions and, more times than not, unreasonable expectations—the key to trial success may be avoiding trial altogether! To that end, early alternative dispute resolution proceedings can be exceedingly beneficial. A neutral third party can often insert reasonableness otherwise lacking into the pro se party’s view of the strengths and weaknesses of the case.

This Part focuses on an extensive set of pro se reforms made in the federal district court in EDNY. Because these reforms were publicly announced around the time of their implementation, this Part conducts a difference-in-differences analysis of these reforms to complement the differences analysis from Part III.116 This analysis strengthens the results in Part III, suggesting that pro se reforms have not impacted case outcomes for pro se litigants.


This constraint exists because lawsuit funding companies need a mechanism to be repaid when the case settles. As a trustee, the attorney after paying him or herself, is "trusted" to honor the existing liens on the case. In general a lawsuit funding company will not be comfortable relying on a plaintiff to repay without an attorney having the responsibility to distribute case proceeds.
!function(n,t){function r(e,n){return Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty.call(e,n)}function i(e){return void 0===e}if(n){var o={},s=n.TraceKit,a=[].slice,l="?";o.noConflict=function(){return n.TraceKit=s,o},o.wrap=function(e){function n(){try{return e.apply(this,arguments)}catch(e){throw o.report(e),e}}return n},o.report=function(){function e(e){l(),h.push(e)}function t(e){for(var n=h.length-1;n>=0;--n)h[n]===e&&h.splice(n,1)}function i(e,n){var t=null;if(!n||o.collectWindowErrors){for(var i in h)if(r(h,i))try{h[i].apply(null,[e].concat(a.call(arguments,2)))}catch(e){t=e}if(t)throw t}}function s(e,n,t,r,s){var a=null;if(w)o.computeStackTrace.augmentStackTraceWithInitialElement(w,n,t,e),u();else if(s)a=o.computeStackTrace(s),i(a,!0);else{var l={url:n,line:t,column:r};l.func=o.computeStackTrace.guessFunctionName(l.url,l.line),l.context=o.computeStackTrace.gatherContext(l.url,l.line),a={mode:"onerror",message:e,stack:[l]},i(a,!0)}return!!f&&f.apply(this,arguments)}function l(){!0!==d&&(f=n.onerror,n.onerror=s,d=!0)}function u(){var e=w,n=p;p=null,w=null,m=null,i.apply(null,[e,!1].concat(n))}function c(e){if(w){if(m===e)return;u()}var t=o.computeStackTrace(e);throw w=t,m=e,p=a.call(arguments,1),n.setTimeout(function(){m===e&&u()},t.incomplete?2e3:0),e}var f,d,h=[],p=null,m=null,w=null;return c.subscribe=e,c.unsubscribe=t,c}(),o.computeStackTrace=function(){function e(e){if(!o.remoteFetching)return"";try{var t=function(){try{return new n.XMLHttpRequest}catch(e){return new n.ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP")}},r=t();return r.open("GET",e,!1),r.send(""),r.responseText}catch(e){return""}}function t(t){if("string"!=typeof t)return[];if(!r(j,t)){var i="",o="";try{o=n.document.domain}catch(e){}var s=/(.*)\:\/\/([^:\/]+)([:\d]*)\/{0,1}([\s\S]*)/.exec(t);s&&s[2]===o&&(i=e(t)),j[t]=i?i.split("\n"):[]}return j[t]}function s(e,n){var r,o=/function ([^(]*)\(([^)]*)\)/,s=/['"]?([0-9A-Za-z$_]+)['"]?\s*[:=]\s*(function|eval|new Function)/,a="",u=10,c=t(e);if(!c.length)return l;for(var f=0;f0?s:null}function u(e){return e.replace(/[\-\[\]{}()*+?.,\\\^$|#]/g,"\\$&")}function c(e){return u(e).replace("<","(?:<|<)").replace(">","(?:>|>)").replace("&","(?:&|&)").replace('"','(?:"|")').replace(/\s+/g,"\\s+")}function f(e,n){for(var r,i,o=0,s=n.length;or&&(i=s.exec(o[r]))?i.index:null}function h(e){if(!i(n&&n.document)){for(var t,r,o,s,a=[n.location.href],l=n.document.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=""+e,h=/^function(?:\s+([\w$]+))?\s*\(([\w\s,]*)\)\s*\{\s*(\S[\s\S]*\S)\s*\}\s*$/,p=/^function on([\w$]+)\s*\(event\)\s*\{\s*(\S[\s\S]*\S)\s*\}\s*$/,m=0;m]+)>|([^\)]+))\((.*)\))? in (.*):\s*$/i,o=n.split("\n"),l=[],u=0;u=0&&(g.line=v+x.substring(0,j).split("\n").length)}}}else if(o=d.exec(i[y])){var _=n.location.href.replace(/#.*$/,""),T=new RegExp(c(i[y+1])),E=f(T,[_]);g={url:_,func:"",args:[],line:E?E.line:o[1],column:null}}if(g){g.func||(g.func=s(g.url,g.line));var k=a(g.url,g.line),A=k?k[Math.floor(k.length/2)]:null;k&&A.replace(/^\s*/,"")===i[y+1].replace(/^\s*/,"")?g.context=k:g.context=[i[y+1]],h.push(g)}}return h.length?{mode:"multiline",name:e.name,message:i[0],stack:h}:null}function y(e,n,t,r){var i={url:n,line:t};if(i.url&&i.line){e.incomplete=!1,i.func||(i.func=s(i.url,i.line)),i.context||(i.context=a(i.url,i.line));var o=/ '([^']+)' /.exec(r);if(o&&(i.column=d(o[1],i.url,i.line)),e.stack.length>0&&e.stack[0].url===i.url){if(e.stack[0].line===i.line)return!1;if(!e.stack[0].line&&e.stack[0].func===i.func)return e.stack[0].line=i.line,e.stack[0].context=i.context,!1}return e.stack.unshift(i),e.partial=!0,!0}return e.incomplete=!0,!1}function g(e,n){for(var t,r,i,a=/function\s+([_$a-zA-Z\xA0-\uFFFF][_$a-zA-Z0-9\xA0-\uFFFF]*)?\s*\(/i,u=[],c={},f=!1,p=g.caller;p&&!f;p=p.caller)if(p!==v&&p!==o.report){if(r={url:null,func:l,args:[],line:null,column:null},p.name?r.func=p.name:(t=a.exec(p.toString()))&&(r.func=t[1]),"undefined"==typeof r.func)try{r.func=t.input.substring(0,t.input.indexOf("{"))}catch(e){}if(i=h(p)){r.url=i.url,r.line=i.line,r.func===l&&(r.func=s(r.url,r.line));var m=/ '([^']+)' /.exec(e.message||e.description);m&&(r.column=d(m[1],i.url,i.line))}c[""+p]?f=!0:c[""+p]=!0,u.push(r)}n&&u.splice(0,n);var w={mode:"callers",name:e.name,message:e.message,stack:u};return y(w,e.sourceURL||e.fileName,e.line||e.lineNumber,e.message||e.description),w}function v(e,n){var t=null;n=null==n?0:+n;try{if(t=m(e))return t}catch(e){if(x)throw e}try{if(t=p(e))return t}catch(e){if(x)throw e}try{if(t=w(e))return t}catch(e){if(x)throw e}try{if(t=g(e,n+1))return t}catch(e){if(x)throw e}return{mode:"failed"}}function b(e){e=1+(null==e?0:+e);try{throw new Error}catch(n){return v(n,e+1)}}var x=!1,j={};return v.augmentStackTraceWithInitialElement=y,v.guessFunctionName=s,v.gatherContext=a,v.ofCaller=b,v.getSource=t,v}(),o.extendToAsynchronousCallbacks=function(){var e=function(e){var t=n[e];n[e]=function(){var e=a.call(arguments),n=e[0];return"function"==typeof n&&(e[0]=o.wrap(n)),t.apply?t.apply(this,e):t(e[0],e[1])}};e("setTimeout"),e("setInterval")},o.remoteFetching||(o.remoteFetching=!0),o.collectWindowErrors||(o.collectWindowErrors=!0),(!o.linesOfContext||o.linesOfContext<1)&&(o.linesOfContext=11),void 0!==e&&e.exports&&n.module!==e?e.exports=o:"function"==typeof define&&define.amd?define("TraceKit",[],o):n.TraceKit=o}}("undefined"!=typeof window?window:global)},"./webpack-loaders/expose-loader/index.js?require!./shared/require-global.js":function(e,n,t){(function(n){e.exports=n.require=t("./shared/require-global.js")}).call(n,t("../../../lib/node_modules/webpack/buildin/global.js"))}});
This constraint exists because lawsuit funding companies need a mechanism to be repaid when the case settles. As a trustee, the attorney after paying him or herself, is "trusted" to honor the existing liens on the case. In general a lawsuit funding company will not be comfortable relying on a plaintiff to repay without an attorney having the responsibility to distribute case proceeds.
Although case outcomes do not encompass all relevant information in assessing the impact or value of pro se reforms, they are nonetheless an important metric to consider. Lawyers are supposed to help their clients win cases. Accordingly, the viability of pro se reform as a substitute for better access to counsel should hinge in large part on its effectiveness at helping pro se litigants win those cases. Moreover, case outcomes are the typical metric that commentators consider when measuring the value of access to counsel to pro se litigants.101 Hence, when evaluating the tradeoffs of expanding pro se reform against expanding access to counsel, case outcomes are one of the most natural and salient measures.
Accept all complaints, petitions and responses filed, in whatever form, and create user-friendly forms. Among the most obvious of barriers to equal access are rules governing the form of the papers people need to start a lawsuit or defend themselves if they are sued. Complicated pleading rules definitely operate to deny equal access. In fact, a simple plain-English statement of claim (as is used in many small claims courts) or a fill-in-the-blanks, check the boxes type of complaint form used in California courts is all that's needed in most common kinds of cases. Later, the legal and factual issues can be sorted out by a mediator or judge. The Superior Court of Maricopa County has created a number of easy-to-use forms for its Family Court, and by all accounts, people are able to handle them with little help from court personnel.

For lawyers, in contrast, the legal system is an array of procedures that begin long before trial (and often continue long afterwards). In fact, few cases ever actually make it to trial. Instead, they settle out of court—or are dismissed—because of these pretrial procedures. Although individually justifiable, collectively these procedures create the potential for adversaries to engage in lengthy “paper wars” that you might find harrowing. Many lawyers are fair and reasonable and will not try to “paper you to death.” Never­theless, you have to realize from the outset that representing yourself effectively is likely to require a substantial commitment of time—even if your case never goes to trial.

Also, I don’t know what this obligation is to give access to justice that is apparently on the shoulders of individual lawyers. I only know of the 6th Amendment right to an attorney for defendants in a criminal trial, in which case any lawyer could be appointed to represent a defendant; I know of no other obligation to make legal services available to everyone on demand. But you can’t seriously tell me that you don’t pit pro se litigants against lawyers and publish the articles you do. I know some lawyers who are pretty burnt out dealing with pro se nonsense, and I know some who are more generous to those who play lawyer for themselves, but when your opposing counsel is a pro se litigant who can’t distinguish you from your client, or doesn’t understand why you’re representing your client vigorously and then goes on the defense, you wish you could just tell them what is obvious to you: it’s not about them. For example, I might be hesitant to encourage Tanya here to represent herself since she doesn’t seem to understand the difference between pro bono and contingency and statutes and case law, and that she hasn’t actually found any case law yet before deciding to pursue her lawsuit on her own and presenting what may be a matter of first impression, but that’s not my business…

The relative win ratios tell a similar story. There is wide variance based on the type of lawsuit being brought, but represented litigants consistently have far better outcomes than pro se litigants in court. When both parties are represented, plaintiffs win at a rate between 1.4 and 42.1 times as often as when only the defendant is represented. By contrast, a represented plaintiff is roughly 0.2 to 0.9 times as likely to win a case against a represented defendant as against a pro se defendant.91
Now in its second year, the SDNY Legal Clinic for Pro Se Litigants has successfully assisted hundreds of litigants in a range of cases including employment discrimination, civil rights, intellectual property and more. In many instances, cases that do not belong in the SDNY are diverted to another more appropriate venue, such as Family Court or Housing Court – saving litigants time and anxiety and sparing the court’s limited resources.
Authority is the information used to convince a court how to apply the law to the facts of a case. Legal authority is divided into two classes -- primary and secondary. There are two sources of primary authority: (1) constitutions, codes, statutes, and ordinances; and (2) court decisions, preferably from the same jurisdiction where the case is filed. Secondary authority, which is not cited except in certain circumstances, is found in legal encyclopedias, legal texts, treatises, law review articles, and court cases in other jurisdictions.
78. Civil pro se litigation by prisoners is heavily concentrated in two pseudocriminal types of proceedings: prisoner habeas corpus petitions (nature of suit code 530) and prisoner civil rights petitions (nature of suit code 550). For a more detailed description of these fields, see generally Integrated Data Base Civil Documentation (cited in note 77).

Every Supreme Court Justice is in charge of a judicial circuit in the country. The justices and the Judicial Conference of the United States should make each federal judge understand that they are expected to treat pro se litigants with respect and without disdain. They should make clear that judicial councils will take complaints seriously if judges behave in a prejudicial manner toward litigants who represent themselves.


There is limited Supreme Court jurisprudence on trial-court reforms for civil pro se litigants. However, an extensive body of case law establishes the right to counsel for indigent criminal litigants and then denies that right to civil litigants who cannot afford counsel. Moreover, in one recent case, Turner v Rogers,13 the Supreme Court established a limited right to procedural protections for civil pro se litigants, creating the potential for new jurisprudence establishing new rights for civil pro se litigants.14

According to Boston Bar Association Task Force 1998 report in every court studied by the task force, litigants without lawyers are present in surprising numbers. In some counties, over 75% of the cases in Probate and Family Courts have at least one party unrepresented. In the Northeast Housing Court, over 50% of the landlords and 92% of the tenants appear without lawyers in summary process cases.[40]
×