While judges supporting civil legal services often cite the lofty ideals of equal justice and assisting the disadvantaged, maintaining an efficient and neutral system is also a motivation. Codes of judicial ethics require judges to be impartial and neutral.16 But neutrality is not the same as passivity. Judges are permitted “to make reasonable accommodations to ensure pro se litigants the opportunity to have their matters fairly heard.”17 Yet judges worry about appearances: they are concerned that assisting an unrepresented litigant will make them seem to be taking sides, forsaking their neutrality.18 This concern has led judges to recuse themselves from cases after they have provided assistance to unrepresented litigants.19

The Judiciary Act of 1789, one of those laws, states that "in all courts of the United States, the parties may plead and manage their own causes personally." It follows that federal judges must respect the pro se litigants' right to represent themselves. Thus, the Supreme Court and Congress have means to remedy the problems with federal judges who disrespect and ignore the rights of pro se litigants.
You should not ignore a debt collection lawsuit because you cannot find a lawyer.  Hundreds of low income New Yorkers defend themselves in debt collection cases every single day, and many do so successfully.  Luckily, a debt collection case is relatively simple and straightforward as compared to other kinds of legal problems.  Debt collection attorneys often rely on the fact that unrepresented defendants do not know their rights.  Fight back by educating yourself about your case!   Read the information in these pages to familiarize yourself with the court process and the issues you will face as a pro se defendant (“pro se” means “without a lawyer”).  If possible, consult with the NYC Financial Justice Hotline or another attorney to obtain individualized advice about potential defenses you may have.  In our experience, a little information goes an incredibly long way.
Find out what your jurisdiction does. If they don’t have them, it’s worth it to bring your own. If a hearing means anything to you, the money you shell out for a court reporter will pay back in spades. If it’s difficult to pay for a court reporter, try to stretch those hearings out as long as you can. If you’re in a multi-year case, you might have a hearing only 3 times per year anyway. If you find you’re having more and can’t afford it, prioritize them. This also helps you think strategically about your case.
We hypothesized that self-affirmation would increase feelings related to self-compassion, and that these feelings would mediate the effects of self-affirmation on increased pro-social behavior to a laboratory shelf-collapse incident (Study 1). In Study 2, we tested the specificity of self-affirmation on compassion, predicting that self-affirmation would increase feelings of self-compassion but not other-directed compassion in evaluating a mildly embarrassing video (their own “self” video vs. a peer “other” video). As previous studies indicate that self-affirmation may be particularly effective at buffering threats to participants who are the most resource deficient (e.g., among ego-depleted participants: Schmeichel and Vohs, 2009; participants with high levels of anti-social behavior: Thomaes et al., 2012), we hypothesized a moderating role of trait self-compassion in Study 2, such that self-affirmation would be more likely to increase self-compassionate feelings (to watching the “self” video) among participants who had pre-existing low levels of trait self-compassion.

We conducted an identical multiple regression analysis with the social performance perceptions measure as the dependent variable. Specifically, this multiple regression analysis tests whether the previous findings related to feelings of compassion also extend to affect social perceptions of performance on the storytelling task (e.g., “how competent did you [the other participant] appear in the video?”). The regression results are depicted in Table ​Table22. Like the compassion feelings measure, participants rated the performance of the peer video higher than the self-video [a main effect of video condition: β = -1.83, t(69) = -2.89, p = 0.005], and trait self-compassion moderated performance perceptions of the videos [trait self-compassion × video condition interaction: β = 1.50, t(69) = 2.35, p = 0.02], such that participants lower in trait self-compassion had lower performance perceptions of their own video (but trait self-compassion did not impact peer video ratings). As shown in Table ​Table22, our results indicate some specificity of the self-affirmation effects to self-compassionate feelings (and not to more general social perceptions): self-affirmation did not significantly impact social performance perceptions (there was no significant self-affirmation × video condition interaction, and no 3-way interaction; Table ​Table22), though this study may have been underpowered to detect subtle influences of self-affirmation on social performance perceptions.


(B) Outside Influence. A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should neither lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge should not testify voluntarily as a character witness.
Peggy Orenstein is the author of Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Love, Kids and Life in a Half-Changed World. An award-winning writer and speaker on issues affecting girls and women, she is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and her work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Vogue, Glamour, Mirabella, Details, Elle, Mother Jones, The New Yorker, and other publications. Additionally, she has served as an editor at Esquire, Manhattan inc., 7 Days, and Mother Jones magazines.

Genius often makes itself known in short bursts, so don't let it go when it comes around. If you have a great idea for a new work process, a recipe to try, or even a way to drive more efficiently, write it down. This way, you'll remember the strokes of genius that fleetingly pass through, and you'll be able to look back on them and remind yourself of the little things when you're feeling down.


Genius often makes itself known in short bursts, so don't let it go when it comes around. If you have a great idea for a new work process, a recipe to try, or even a way to drive more efficiently, write it down. This way, you'll remember the strokes of genius that fleetingly pass through, and you'll be able to look back on them and remind yourself of the little things when you're feeling down.


One last word on this topic: Just because a person or business is broke does not necessarily mean pursuing a judgment is pointless. The future is uncertain. A person can eventually inherit money, start a successful business, or sell off property. Depending on the state, judgments may be valid for 10-20 years, and can often be renewed. The big question is: How long are you willing to wait to recover your money… if ever?
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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