24Beverly W. Snukals and Glen H. Sturtevant Jr., “Pro Se Litigation: Best Practices from a Judge’s Perspective,” University of Richmond Law Review 42 (2) (2007) [LINK]; United States District Court, District of Minnesota, and the Federal Bar Association, Minnesota Chapter, The Pro Se Project (Minneapolis: United States District Court, District of Minnesota, and Federal Bar Association, Minnesota Chapter, 2011), 2 [LINK]; and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The Trial Court, Probate and Family Court Department, Pro Se Litigants: The Challenge of the Future (Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1997), 16 [LINK].
There are also freely accessible web search engines to assist pro se in finding court decisions that can be cited as an example or analogy to resolve similar questions of law. Google Scholar is the biggest database of full text state and federal courts decisions that can be accessed without charge. These web search engines often allow pro se to select specific state courts to search.
When pro se litigants feel they are being shut out from the process or that their voices are being stifled, these challenges—and the accompanying risks—are amplified. In fact, studies show that notions of fairness heavily influence and guide pro se litigants. Id. at 4. Indeed, “research has repeatedly established that when litigants perceive that a decision-making process is fair, they are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome.” Self-Represented Litigation Network, Handling Cases Involving Self-Represented Litigants: A National Bench Guide for Judges 2–4 (2008).
Expert witnesses: If your case requires an expert witness, that could cost hundreds of dollars per hour. You will need to pay the expert for her time reviewing any materials, writing a report, and preparing for and testifying at depositions and trial. Some experts also require payment for travel costs, parking, mileage, and hotel accommodations, if necessary.
There are a number of restrictions courts impose on pro se litigation. They include instances in which individuals are unduly disruptive, clearly lacking in knowledge, or have engaged in improper or abusive practices. There is a growing tendency, although occasionally controversial, for courts to proscribe litigation by individuals who repeatedly engage in abusive tactics while litigating pro se. The practice of self-representation or pro se litigation can be either a boon or a bane to litigants.