All of these challenges are made worse by the disparity in education between lawyers and many low-income individuals, who generally read at lower reading levels and are more comfortable with oral communication, in particular by relating stories. The American justice system depends on written rules and on written orders and decisions, written at a reading level much higher than that of the average low-income litigant. Without a lawyer (or other kind of legal problem-solver) to explain the rules, navigate the legal process, and translate orders and decisions into accessible terms, a low-income litigant is likely to be lost in the system and to lose his case.11
One never steps into the same society twice? In this assembly of strangers, a man one meets one day will in all likelihood never be seen again. It’s a world of anonymity, shifting identity, and, because of this, mistrust. In a close-knit community, neighbors might think nothing of owing each other debts to be repaid at some indefinite point in the future, but not so much on a moving ship.
(3) Organizations. A judge may participate in and serve as a member, officer, director, trustee, or nonlegal advisor of a nonprofit organization devoted to the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice and may assist such an organization in the management and investment of funds. A judge may make recommendations to public and private fund-granting agencies about projects and programs concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.
Canon 4C. A judge may attend fund-raising events of law-related and other organizations although the judge may not be a speaker, a guest of honor, or featured on the program of such an event. Use of a judge’s name, position in the organization, and judicial designation on an organization’s letterhead, including when used for fund raising or soliciting members, does not violate Canon 4C if comparable information and designations are listed for others.
Unlike in the criminal context, there’s no federal constitutional right to counsel in civil cases. Civil cases can involve a range of critical issues, including housing, public benefits, child custody and domestic violence. And while some civil litigants may be entitled to counsel in certain jurisdictions, in most of these cases, people who cannot afford a lawyer will be forced to go it alone. Doing so may mean that they fail to make it through the process, have their case dismissed or lose what otherwise would have been a winning case.
He convinces the barber to sign a contract agreeing to remove the offending sign and promising to have confidence in people; the confidence-man in turn agrees “to make good to the last any loss that may come from his trusting mankind, in the way of his vocation, for the residue of the present trip.” And then, deal done, he walks out, asking the barber to have confidence that he’ll pay him back for the shave.
Yet the tone of the book isn’t quite satirical; it’s not exactly an indictment of the materialism and gullibility of American society. Melville’s confidence-man doesn’t try to persuade marks, not exactly. His method takes the form of a dialogue on why trust is better than mistrust, an argument for the need to have faith in nature and mankind. Much of the book is taken up with elaborate philosophical arguments on questions such as whether nature is always good, whether a boy’s character predicts the man he will become, the ethics of loaning money, and, above all, whether one should have confidence, or trust, in one’s fellow man. The effect is a bit as if Plato had Socrates, while arguing that justice is better than injustice, convince Glaucon to lend him his watch. It’s an odd book about materialism that spends all its time with its head in the clouds—although there’s no better time to pick a man’'s pocket than while he’s stargazing. There’s a slight scent of brimstone to the confidence-man, as if he’s come to earth as part of an infernal bet on the fallibility of human nature. Or, as the novel’s most caustic cynic, a one-legged man who believes that a crippled beggar called Guinea is a white man in blackface, says, “Money, you think, is the sole motive to pains and hazard, deception and deviltry, in this world. How much money did the devil make by gulling Eve?” Yet as it turns out, the philosophical claims the novel’s characters dispute, about human nature and the obligations of human beings toward each other, have much to do with the particular economic form of the society they inhabit.
University of Illinois Law School's Professor Robert Lawless, a national expert in personal credit and bankruptcy, showed that, the rate of non-attorney filings in bankruptcy courts by debtors was 13.8% for chapter 13 cases, and 10.1% for chapter 7 cases. The rate was as high as 30% to 45% for major urban areas, such as California and New York city. US Bankruptcy Court of Arizona reported 23.14% cases filed pro se in October 2011, up from 20.61% a year before.
From the prison library, Gideon appealed to the United States Supreme Court, stating that, because he was denied counsel, his Sixth Amendment rights had been violated. In its 1963 ruling, the Supreme Court held that representation by counsel, even by defendants who cannot afford to hire an attorney, is a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. The opinion further stated that, because the Sixth Amendment does not distinguish between capital and non-capital offenses, the services of an attorney must be provided for an impoverished defendant in all criminal cases.
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A video from Washington's judicial branch challenges some mistaken ideas about how courts work by using real person-on-the-street interviews and responses from judges, justices, a court clerk and a state legislator. The video was produced by the Public Trust & Confidence Committee of the Board for Judicial Administration (BJA) in partnership with Washington's public affairs station, TVW, with financial support provided by the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission and Minority and Justice Commission.
An individual’s right to represent himself or herself in federal court is expressly codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1654 (2018), which provides: “In all courts of the United States the parties may plead and conduct their own cases . . . therein.” Similarly, many states have codified the rights of pro se litigants in their respective constitutions and statutes. Drew A. Swank, “The Pro Se Phenomenon,” 19 BYU J. Pub. L. 373, 375 (2005). Indeed, according to the Supreme Court, there is “no evidence that the . . . Framers ever doubted the right of self-representation, or imagined that this right might be considered inferior to the right of assistance of counsel.” Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 832 (1975).
After conducting an empirical study of pro se felony defendants, I conclude that these defendants are not necessarily either ill-served by the decision to represent themselves or mentally ill. ... In state court, pro se defendants charged with felonies fared as well as, and arguably significantly better than, their represented counterparts ... of the 234 pro se defendants for whom an outcome was provided, just under 50 percent of them were convicted on any charge. ... for represented state court defendants, by contrast, a total of 75 percent were convicted of some charge. ... Only 26 percent of the pro se defendants ended up with felony convictions, while 63 percent of their represented counterparts were convicted of felonies ... in federal court ... the acquittal rate for pro se defendants is virtually identical to the acquittal rate for represented defendants.