No matter how many times you read this book and how carefully you prepare, you will probably feel anxious when you represent yourself in court, especially if your opponent has a lawyer. Perhaps it will help you if you know that you aren’t alone. Many professionals feel anxiety—particularly before a first performance—whether they are lawyers about to begin a trial, teachers about to teach a class, or actors about to perform on stage. So take a deep breath and gather up your courage. As long as you combine your common sense with the principles and techniques described in this book, and are not afraid to ask a court clerk, a law librarian, an attorney, or even the judge for help if you become confused, you should be able to represent yourself competently and effectively.
(function(){"use strict";function s(e){return"function"==typeof e||"object"==typeof e&&null!==e}function a(e){return"function"==typeof e}function l(e){X=e}function u(e){G=e}function c(){return function(){r.nextTick(p)}}function f(){var e=0,n=new ne(p),t=document.createTextNode("");return n.observe(t,{characterData:!0}),function(){t.data=e=++e%2}}function d(){var e=new MessageChannel;return e.port1.onmessage=p,function(){e.port2.postMessage(0)}}function h(){return function(){setTimeout(p,1)}}function p(){for(var e=0;et.length)&&(n=t.length),n-=e.length;var r=t.indexOf(e,n);return-1!==r&&r===n}),String.prototype.startsWith||(String.prototype.startsWith=function(e,n){return n=n||0,this.substr(n,e.length)===e}),String.prototype.trim||(String.prototype.trim=function(){return this.replace(/^[\s\uFEFF\xA0]+|[\s\uFEFF\xA0]+$/g,"")}),String.prototype.includes||(String.prototype.includes=function(e,n){"use strict";return"number"!=typeof n&&(n=0),!(n+e.length>this.length)&&-1!==this.indexOf(e,n)})},"./shared/require-global.js":function(e,n,t){e.exports=t("./shared/require-shim.js")},"./shared/require-shim.js":function(e,n,t){var r=t("./shared/errors.js"),i=(this.window,!1),o=null,s=null,a=new Promise(function(e,n){o=e,s=n}),l=function(e){if(!l.hasModule(e)){var n=new Error('Cannot find module "'+e+'"');throw n.code="MODULE_NOT_FOUND",n}return t("./"+e+".js")};l.loadChunk=function(e){return a.then(function(){return"main"==e?t.e("main").then(function(e){t("./main.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"dev"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("dev")]).then(function(e){t("./shared/dev.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"internal"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("internal"),t.e("qtext2"),t.e("dev")]).then(function(e){t("./internal.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"ads_manager"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("ads_manager")]).then(function(e){t("./ads_manager/main.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"publisher_dashboard"==e?t.e("publisher_dashboard").then(function(e){undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"content_widgets"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("content_widgets")]).then(function(e){t("./content_widgets.iframe.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):void 0})},l.whenReady=function(e,n){Promise.all(window.webpackChunks.map(function(e){return l.loadChunk(e)})).then(function(){n()})},l.installPageProperties=function(e,n){window.Q.settings=e,window.Q.gating=n,i=!0,o()},l.assertPagePropertiesInstalled=function(){i||(s(),r.logJsError("installPageProperties","The install page properties promise was rejected in require-shim."))},l.prefetchAll=function(){t("./settings.js");Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("qtext2")]).then(function(){}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe)},l.hasModule=function(e){return!!window.NODE_JS||t.m.hasOwnProperty("./"+e+".js")},l.execAll=function(){var e=Object.keys(t.m);try{for(var n=0;n=c?n():document.fonts.load(u(o,'"'+o.family+'"'),a).then(function(n){1<=n.length?e():setTimeout(t,25)},function(){n()})}t()});var w=new Promise(function(e,n){l=setTimeout(n,c)});Promise.race([w,m]).then(function(){clearTimeout(l),e(o)},function(){n(o)})}else t(function(){function t(){var n;(n=-1!=y&&-1!=g||-1!=y&&-1!=v||-1!=g&&-1!=v)&&((n=y!=g&&y!=v&&g!=v)||(null===f&&(n=/AppleWebKit\/([0-9]+)(?:\.([0-9]+))/.exec(window.navigator.userAgent),f=!!n&&(536>parseInt(n[1],10)||536===parseInt(n[1],10)&&11>=parseInt(n[2],10))),n=f&&(y==b&&g==b&&v==b||y==x&&g==x&&v==x||y==j&&g==j&&v==j)),n=!n),n&&(null!==_.parentNode&&_.parentNode.removeChild(_),clearTimeout(l),e(o))}function d(){if((new Date).getTime()-h>=c)null!==_.parentNode&&_.parentNode.removeChild(_),n(o);else{var e=document.hidden;!0!==e&&void 0!==e||(y=p.a.offsetWidth,g=m.a.offsetWidth,v=w.a.offsetWidth,t()),l=setTimeout(d,50)}}var p=new r(a),m=new r(a),w=new r(a),y=-1,g=-1,v=-1,b=-1,x=-1,j=-1,_=document.createElement("div");_.dir="ltr",i(p,u(o,"sans-serif")),i(m,u(o,"serif")),i(w,u(o,"monospace")),_.appendChild(p.a),_.appendChild(m.a),_.appendChild(w.a),document.body.appendChild(_),b=p.a.offsetWidth,x=m.a.offsetWidth,j=w.a.offsetWidth,d(),s(p,function(e){y=e,t()}),i(p,u(o,'"'+o.family+'",sans-serif')),s(m,function(e){g=e,t()}),i(m,u(o,'"'+o.family+'",serif')),s(w,function(e){v=e,t()}),i(w,u(o,'"'+o.family+'",monospace'))})})},void 0!==e?e.exports=a:(window.FontFaceObserver=a,window.FontFaceObserver.prototype.load=a.prototype.load)}()},"./third_party/tracekit.js":function(e,n){/**
The EDNY pro se office has two primary functions.119 First, the magistrate judge’s pro se office—comprised of staff attorneys and administrative office employees—proposes initial orders to the assigned judge, including to dismiss or to direct the litigant to amend the complaint, and responds to inquiries from the judge’s offices about the cases. As part of these initial duties, the office gives procedural advice to individuals about filing and litigating their claims by answering questions and making forms and instructions available. Second, the magistrate judge automatically oversees all pro se cases that survive screening, handles pretrial matters, and presides at trial with the parties’ consent.120 These reforms do not exactly mimic those discussed in the FJC Survey and evaluated in the empirical analysis above. However, they do include a number of efforts similar to those evaluated in

Why file a Pro Se complaint? As the chair of an advocacy group called the Disability Action Crew (DAC), I have lots of information to help others advocate for access. With every question I get asked about advocacy, it seems I often end up with more questions that go unanswered. It's like a coach trying to beat a team that makes all the rules as the game goes along. He's out there, he's trying to win, but every time he goes for the goal there's a different set of rules. Advocacy's like that‹we don't know the rule of winning access until we break them. And we look to authorities for the answers: the DOJ, the EEOC, the HRC, the DOT.
Reaching out to people close to us, even if just for a quick chat, is a great way to remember our vast self-worth. While it's not right to seek validation through others, it is definitely helpful to spend time with those who make us feel loved. People like this include our closest friends, our family, and our significant others. Feeling that you deserve the companies of others is an essential step in developing love for yourself.

However, this book cannot serve as a complete guide to all the rules you need to know. For one thing, the exact rule in your court system may be somewhat different from the example we give. In that event, knowing about another similar rule—either a federal rule or another state’s rule—can help you locate the rule in your state. (See Chapter 23 for information on doing your own legal ­research.) Also, each court system has its own procedural rules that, though important, cannot be covered in this book. For example, local court rules set time limits for filing various kinds of documents and page limits on the length of those documents. You will have to learn and comply with these local requirements.

attorney-client relationship—whereas approximately two-thirds retained their units after receiving both unbundled legal assistance and representation by counsel.58 Overall, though the body of evidence is still limited, the empirical evidence suggests that providing lawyers for pro se litigants substantially improves case outcomes for those litigants. Critically, this implies that providing adequate access to counsel may substantially improve case outcomes for a meaningful percentage of pro se litigants.59


Let the pro se party’s voice be heard. Individuals representing themselves at trial in civil litigation are often battling hardships on many fronts. Generally, they have found themselves in an unfamiliar and intimidating setting governed by a labyrinth of substantive and procedural rules, along with unwritten local customs and expectations. This maze can be challenging for even the most tested trial attorney. It is particularly daunting to pro se parties. Of course, it is frequently not by choice that pro se parties are in trial without the benefit of legal counsel. Whether they are acting as a plaintiff or a defendant, their status as a pro se party is many times forced by precarious financial situations. Moreover, the types of lawsuits in which pro se litigants are regularly involved—employment, professional malpractice, personal injury, whistleblower cases, and collections, to name a few—are often particularly rife with emotion and typically involve allegations of a sensitive, personal, and sometimes embarrassing nature. Indeed, these cases are often plagued by feelings of anger, resentment, pride, shame, and revenge. To make the situation even more challenging, pro se litigants frequently take the drastic step of representing themselves in civil litigation because they view themselves as victims of a wrong that must be made right, and they do not view as primary considerations the time and costs associated with redressing the wrong.


102. The types of cases that typically result in final judgment, and are evaluated here, are cases that are disposed of following judgment on default, consent, motion before trial, jury verdict, directed verdict, court trial, arbitral award, or other resolution. Cases disposed of via transfer or remand or dismissed due to settlement, voluntary dismissal, lack of jurisdiction, or want of prosecution are discarded in this analysis.

Resource Guide on Serving Self-Represented Litigants Remotely (SRLN 2016). (July 2016). Self-Represented Litigants Network The Resource Guide provides options for courts and other entities interested in providing services to self-represented litigants using means that are not face-to-face, instead of, or in addition to, in-person alternatives such as walk-in services, workshops, and clinics. 


Pro Se One Stop Legal Document Services, LLC is not a substitute for an attorney and we do not offer legal advice. We simply recognize the dilemma placed upon the consumer who cannot afford or chooses not to incur expensive attorney’s fees. Without any assistance in preparing legal documents and forms, many consumers go without taking any legal action or simply go at the legal system lost and alone, which often leads to devastating results. Not all legal matters require an attorney. We offer a low-cost alternative by helping you fill out and file the necessary documents and forms; and teach you how to closely monitor your case. We look forward to serving you!
In contrast, the results for services intended to help pro se litigants obtain representation are somewhat less clear. Again, the resultant “improvements” in win rates look more like statistical noise than meaningful impacts, but there is arguably more room for contrary interpretations.113 However, while those reforms are no doubt also advocated by many seeking an alternative to civil Gideon, they concern increased access to counsel instead of substitutes for access to counsel. Thus, these kinds of reforms do not resemble the types of reforms suggested by the Supreme Court in Turner nor by most commentators discussing civil

United States federal courts created the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system to obtain case and docket information from the United States district courts, United States courts of appeals, and United States bankruptcy courts.[68] The system, managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, allows lawyers and self-represented clients to obtain documents entered in the case much faster than regular mail.[68] Several federal courts published general guidelines for pro se litigants and Civil Rights complaint forms.[69][70][71][72]

Narrow exceptions to this principle have also been suggested by other courts in the United States. For example, according to one district court a state-licensed attorney who is acting as pro se may collect attorney's fees when he represents a class (of which he is a member) in a class action lawsuit,[53] or according to another court represents a law firm of which he is a member.[54] In each of those instances, a non-attorney would be barred from conducting the representation altogether. One district court found that this policy does not prevent a pro se attorney from recovering fees paid for consultations with outside counsel.[55] Pro se who are not state-licensed attorneys cannot bring up a class action lawsuit.[22]


Chicago: Justice for the “Little Guy”?, 72 Nw U L Rev 947 (1978) (discussing deficiencies of pro se small claims courts). See also Margaret Martin Barry, Accessing Justice: Are Pro Se Clinics a Reasonable Response to the Lack of Pro Bono Legal Services and Should Law School Clinics Conduct Them?, 67 Fordham L Rev 1879, 1926 (1999) (describing the pro se system as one that “sacrifices justice for expediency”).
Your state’s “Rules of Court.” These are rules that set the procedures and deadlines that the courts in a state must follow. Generally, states have separate sets of rules for different kinds of courts. For example, a state may have one set of rules for its municipal courts (courts that try cases involving limited amounts of money), another for its superior courts (courts that try cases involving higher amounts of money), and still others for its appellate courts (courts that review the decisions of municipal and superior courts). All the rules may, however, be published in a single book. Some states also have separate sets of rules for specialized courts, such as family law courts, which hear cases involving divorce, child custody, and child support; or probate courts, which hear cases involving wills and trusts.
A fellow advocate member of DAC, our advocacy group, filed her Pro Se in Federal District Court, after waiting and waiting for DOJ to respond. She lives on a low fixed income, and was able to waive the filing fee. Within a week, she received her notification of receipt that her case is now pending in federal court. At the same time she received notification that the inaccessible business was being served the complaint by a federal marshal. Shortly after that, she received a letter from the attorney for the inaccessible business stating that they wanted to settle out of court. Of course!! We settled for full compliance with the ADA.
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
Going to court is never an enjoyable experience. With the substantial cost of attorney fees, having to gather a significant amount of evidence, and having to spend lengthy amounts of time in the lawyer’s office, fighting for your legal rights becomes overwhelming. There is a solution, however. Pro-Se Litigation is a type of legal strategy in which you represent yourself in civil suits. Luckily, there is hope; you…
Handling Cases Involving Self-Represented Litigants: A Benchguide for Judicial Officers. (January 2007). Center for Families, Children, and the Courts. California Administrative Office of the Courts This comprehensive bench guide, the first of its kind, was designed to help judicial officers handle the increase in cases involving self-represented litigants. Twelve chapters of helpful suggestions are provided, along with sample scripts and checklists.
81. Some reasons that these reforms may impact prisoners differently from nonprisoners include: differences in the types of cases brought, potentially different access to legal resources (depending on the availability of legal materials in prison), different judicial attitudes toward prisoner and nonprisoner pro se litigants, or different levels of access to counsel. Note that this Comment does not definitively suggest these reforms impact nonprisoner and prisoner pro se litigants differently. Instead, it merely suggests there may be differences and limits the scope of this analysis to nonprisoner pro se litigants.
Against this background, it doesn’t normally make sense to interpret your adversary’s offer to “talk settlement” as a sign of weakness. Nor should you be reluctant to be the one to suggest a negotiated settlement. In fact, judges, arbitrators, and mediators routinely urge adversaries to explore settlement even if previous attempts have failed. It’s a wise person who never closes the door to a reasonable settlement.
 B. All papers, such as leases, contracts, sales or rent  receipts, letters from or  to the plaintiff or defendant, paid repair bills or three written repair estimates, canceled checks, photographs, and merchandise such as damaged clothing, etc. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PAPERS AT HOME.  They can only be of help when you show them to the Judge. If you do not know whether certain documents or papers are important or will be needed in the court, be prepared and bring them with you.

Public Counsel's Federal Pro Se Clinic can provide free legal assistance to people representing themselves in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  The Clinic does not assist with criminal, bankruptcy, habeas, appeals, or any state cases.  The Clinic does not provide representation in court and cannot find an attorney to represent you.
Turner, the most recent Supreme Court ruling on the rights of civil pro se litigants, threw an unexpected twist into this line of cases and provided fodder for both proponents and detractors of the expanded right to counsel for civil litigants. In Turner, all nine justices agreed that the state was not required to provide counsel in a civil contempt hearing even if the contempt order would have resulted in incarceration.41 Nonetheless, a five-justice majority overturned the sentence, holding that the state must “have in place alternative procedures that ensure a fundamentally fair determination of the critical incarceration-related question.”42 The Court highlighted a “set of ‘substitute procedural safeguards’”—for example, notice about critical issues in the case, the use of forms to elicit relevant information, and other potential protections—that could stand in for assistance of counsel and ensure the “‘fundamental fairness’ of the proceeding even where the State does not pay for counsel for an indigent defendant.”43

But that shouldn't make a difference, as all cases are to be judged on their merits, not by the persons who bring them. By law, every federal judge must take an oath affirming to "administer justice without respect to person, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich," and to "faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as judge under the Constitution and laws of the United States."

Acknowledging the limits described above, this Comment does find that pro se reform in federal district courts has not yet meaningfully impacted case outcomes for pro se litigants, whereas increased access to counsel has had somewhat more promising results in the experimental literature.131 The policy implications of those facts are not immediately clear. These results suggest that increased access to counsel may help pro se litigants vindicate rights; however, the wisdom of that approach depends on whether the costs of that increased access to counsel outweigh the benefits or whether there are cheaper ways to achieve those benefits. One critical question in this vein is whether there are more effective reform opportunities available to courts, because more effective reforms could still conceivably enable improved outcomes for pro se litigants at a lower cost than increased access to counsel. This Comment finds little evidence that measures thus far implemented by courts have improved case outcomes. Hence, merely renewing and expanding similar reforms does not appear to be an especially promising path forward.
If you represent yourself in an admin­istrative hearing you should be as respect­ful to the ALJ as you would be to a judge, even though the former wears a suit and the latter a robe. Moreover, whether you address your arguments to a judge or an ALJ, you have the same need to present a clear and persuasive case. Make sure you understand the basis of an agency’s action, or what evidence you need to produce to uphold your claim. Also, any witnesses you rely on should attend the hearing, and you should be ready to support your claim with documents and records.
The primary dataset used in this Comment consists of administrative records of civil cases filed in federal district courts, which are collected and published by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO).76 The AO dataset includes the district court in which the case was filed, the docket number of each case, the date on which the case was filed, the nature of the suit, the procedural progress of the case at the time the case was disposed of, the manner in which the case was disposed of, the party that the final judgment of the case was in favor of, and whether the plaintiff or the defendant was a pro se party.77
123. Note that this does not necessarily imply the pro se reforms in EDNY are failing to improve the litigation process for pro se litigants. See notes 97–100 and accompanying text. It is conceivable that, for example, the reforms in EDNY have led to higher average settlement values for pro se plaintiffs and thus improved overall outcomes for pro se litigants. Moreover, there could be important benefits to a litigation process in which pro se litigants feel more fully heard and in which the process is more dignified for pro se litigants. This office could be creating large benefits for pro se litigants in EDNY overall. However, this analysis is restricted to case outcomes. Further, the pro se reforms in EDNY may be making a positive impact in terms of the efficiency side of the equation, helping to dispose of pro se cases more quickly and efficiently than would otherwise be the case and reducing the overall burden of pro se cases on the court despite not improving case outcomes for pro se litigants.
Unless your case is unusually complex, you really can represent yourself. You may not have all the legal training of a lawyer, but you do not need to go to law school to have common sense, to learn how to ask intelligent questions, or to recognize what makes people and information believable. In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of the country’s most revered U.S. Supreme Court justices, “The life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience.” As these words suggest, your everyday life experience is the foundation of most of what you need to know to present a coherent, convincing case. Besides, as former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger was fond of pointing out, many lawyers are not such hotshots; they often come to court ill-prepared and lacking professional skills.
The Supreme Court noted that "[i]n the federal courts, the right of self-representation has been protected by statute since the beginnings of our Nation. Section 35 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, 1 Stat. 73, 92, enacted by the First Congress and signed by President Washington one day before the Sixth Amendment was proposed, provided that 'in all the courts of the United States, the parties may plead and manage their own causes personally or by the assistance of counsel.'"[5]
×