The SDNY, which provides the funding for the clinic, recently approved the introduction of a mediation project, which in a short period of time has proved to be highly effective. Clinic staff members and volunteers are now permitted to represent pro se litigants in connection with settlements. Litigants get an impartial view of the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, resulting in earlier resolutions. Over half of the litigants who were represented by clinic staff members or volunteers settled their cases.
Commentators have seen Turner as a complete rejection of civil Gideon, effectively foreclosing the possibility of an expanded right to counsel in civil litigation, at least for the foreseeable future.44 However, commentators have also seen the holding in Turner—that due process requires trial courts to protect pro se litigants’ rights via procedural safeguards—as a nod toward a new and potentially more fruitful approach to pro se litigation: reforms in trial courts.45
Federal courts can impose liability for the prevailing party's attorney fees to the losing party if the judge considers the case frivolous or for purpose of harassment, even when the case was voluntarily dismissed. In the case of Fox v. Vice, U.S. Supreme Court held that reasonable attorneys' fees could be awarded to the defendant under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988, but only for costs that the defendant would not have incurred "but for the frivolous claims." Unless there is an actual trial or judgment, if there is only pre-trial motion practice such as motions to dismiss, attorney fee shifting can only be awarded under FRCP Rule 11 and it requires that the opposing party file a Motion for Sanctions and that the court issue an order identifying the sanctioned conduct and the basis for the sanction. Pro se still has a right to appeal any order for sanctions in the higher court. In the state courts, however, each party is generally responsible only for its own attorney fees, with certain exceptions.
Privacy Requirements. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 5.2 addresses the privacy and security concerns over public access to electronic court files. Under this rule, papers filed with the court should not contain anyone’s full social-security number or full birth date; the name of a person known to be a minor; or a complete financial-account number. A filing may include only the last four digits of a social-security number and taxpayer identification number; the year of someone’s birth; a minor’s initials; and the last four digits of a financial-account number.