Over 90% of all lawsuits are resolved without a trial. If you and your adversary can arrive at a fair resolution without going to trial, you can save yourself time and money. By showing you how to prove and disprove legal claims, this book can help you arrive at a fair resolution of your dispute using settlement procedures. For a complete discussion of settlement, see Chapter 6.
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.
Section provides several tables that highlight the frequency of pro se litigants across different types of legal claims and show which specific case types most frequently feature pro se litigants. Despite the fact that roughly 10 percent of federal district court litigation involves a pro se plaintiff, some types of litigation very rarely involve pro se plaintiffs, while other types of cases are brought by pro se plaintiffs much more than 10 percent of the time. The story is similar for pro se defendants, though the variation is less dramatic because pro se defendants comprise only 2 percent of defendants in civil suits in federal district courts. Even in light of this variance, pro se litigants comprise a significant raw number of civil suits in all categories.
When going through divorce, it is not required for either party to be represented by an attorney, and in fact, many choose to save money by representing themselves in a pro se divorce. The necessary forms for divorce are available at the local family court, and many jurisdictions offer family law family law facilitators to provide information on the process of divorce to pro se litigants. In a divorce in which both parties can agree on the issues of division of marital property, and child custody and support, a pro se divorce may be the best choice for all. On the other hand, when there is serious conflict over these issues, the divorce may become quite complicated, and hiring an attorney may be the better choice.
A separate judicial branch study of pending divorce cases in 2001 found that 26 percent of the parties were pro se. While many of those cases are straightforward and mostly involve paperwork, others are more complicated. In those cases, people with no training who try to represent themselves must learn the rules of evidence and court decorum on the fly. It doesn't always go well.

But in the course of my experience, it became very apparent that the deck was stacked against me just because I was proceeding pro se – that is, representing myself, without an attorney. It's hard enough for a layman to win in court as it is, but the apparent disdain and discrimination that courts and judges show toward pro se litigants make it that much harder.
Commentators writing about pro se litigation over the past twenty years have typically described pro se litigation as a large and growing portion of the federal docket.79 However, when the scope of the inquiry is limited to nonprisoner pro se litigation, this trend does not show up in the AO data. There has been a meaningful upward trend in the total number of pro se cases. But the percent of cases brought by pro se plaintiffs has not changed significantly, as seen in Table 2A, suggesting pro se litigation comprises a relatively stable portion of the federal docket.
However, before such a petition can be filed in the federal court, the petitioner must pursue and exhaust all available state law remedies. This means that if you want to challenge a conviction or a sentence, you must pursue your right of appeal under Idaho law. This may be accomplished in two ways: (1) the direct right of appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court, or (2) by filing a petition for post-conviction relief in the state district court followed by an appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court. Only after you have fully pursued the available state law remedies will you be eligible to pursue a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus.
The majority of criminal defendants who choose to go pro se base their decision on a lack of trust in the judicial system. Many defendants are hesitant to work with a court-appointed defense attorney because they do not trust that the attorney will render good service. In other words, they feel that they can do a better job themselves. Some pro se defendants feel that no person knows the details of their situation better than they do.
2. When a particular case is decided, it becomes "precedent" which means that it becomes an example or authority for an identical or similar case or a similar question of law. Court decisions are the basis for the system of stare decisis. These decisions are published in what is called the National Reporter System which covers cases decided by the United States Supreme Court down to the individual state district courts. These reporters each have their own "digest" system which serves as an index by subject on points of law. There are many reporters in this system and they can be found in most law libraries.

While the outcome gap between pro se and represented litigants does not necessarily prove that lack of access to counsel causes poor case outcomes for pro se litigants, it is easy to see how it motivates proponents of pro se court reforms or civil Gideon. Table 2C suggests that, whenever one of the parties is proceeding pro se, the likelihood that any final judgment will be registered for the other party is overwhelming. If one believes that a meaningful portion of pro se litigants have important rights that they are seeking to vindicate in court, it is likely they are not receiving adequate remedies under the current legal system.85
From Figure 1, it’s difficult to tell whether there is a trend in EDNY meaningfully different from the trend seen in other New York district courts. To investigate this further, this Comment runs the logistic regression described above. Table 4 displays the results of that regression. Because the outcome variable is whether a plaintiff wins or loses a particular case, and each of the independent variables in this regression is a binary dummy variable, the coefficients describe the change in the probability of a case outcome when the variable is set to 1 instead of 0. Hence, a coefficient of 0.5 on the variable “EDNY Reform Dummy” would imply that EDNY Reform increased the chances of a pro se plaintiff winning a case by 0.5 percent.
However, before such a petition can be filed in the federal court, the petitioner must pursue and exhaust all available state law remedies. This means that if you want to challenge a conviction or a sentence, you must pursue your right of appeal under Idaho law. This may be accomplished in two ways: (1) the direct right of appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court, or (2) by filing a petition for post-conviction relief in the state district court followed by an appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court. Only after you have fully pursued the available state law remedies will you be eligible to pursue a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus.
Even common criminal charges like burglary can be complicated because there are many elements to prove. Also, in any criminal trial, there are many procedural rules that must be followed in court, such as how to make objections and how to enter evidence. Procedural rules can be difficult to learn on the spot, especially if the defendant is in the custody of the court.
This Comment presents commentators with a perspective on the volume, types, and typical success rates of pro se litigants in federal district courts. It shows that nonprisoner pro se litigants comprise a meaningful percentage of the federal docket. Moreover, pro se litigants show up in substantial numbers across many different types of litigation, from property cases, to torts cases, to civil rights cases. However, in nearly all of those types of cases, pro se litigants fare at least several times worse than represented litigants; overall, pro se plaintiffs are less than one-tenth as likely to win cases as represented plaintiffs, whereas pro se defendants are only about one-third as likely to win cases as represented defendants.

From Figure 1, it’s difficult to tell whether there is a trend in EDNY meaningfully different from the trend seen in other New York district courts. To investigate this further, this Comment runs the logistic regression described above. Table 4 displays the results of that regression. Because the outcome variable is whether a plaintiff wins or loses a particular case, and each of the independent variables in this regression is a binary dummy variable, the coefficients describe the change in the probability of a case outcome when the variable is set to 1 instead of 0. Hence, a coefficient of 0.5 on the variable “EDNY Reform Dummy” would imply that EDNY Reform increased the chances of a pro se plaintiff winning a case by 0.5 percent.
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.
This Part discusses trends in civil pro se litigation in federal district courts. It examines several important characteristics of pro se litigation: the volume, typical outcomes, and typical types of suits brought by pro se litigants. It then describes some implications of this data and thus helps contextualize the empirical analyses of pro se reforms that Parts III and IV present.
The State Bar of Georgia provided the number of lawyers by county in 2016. By combining this data with information from the Self Represented Litigation Network, available census data from the 2014 American Community Survey, 2015 statistics from the Federal Communications Commission, data from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and 2016 information from the Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society (ALAS), the map provides insight into attorney representation and other factors that impact access to justice throughout the state.
In 2011, the Federal Judicial Conference surveyed federal court clerks offices regarding pro se issues. They found that only 17 of 62 responding judges report that discovery is taken in most non prisoner pro se cases and only 13 reported that discovery is taken in most prisoner pro se cases.[16]:21 In the same survey, 37% of judges found that most pro ses had problems examining witnesses, while 30% found that pro ses had no or few problems examining witnesses.[16]:22 53% found that represented parties sometimes or frequently take advantage of pro se parties.[16]:23 Only 5% reported problems of pro ses behaving inappropriately at hearings.[16]:24 Respondents to the FJC study did not report any orders against non prisoner pro se litigation.[16]
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