The Judicial Conference has authorized its Committee on Codes of Conduct to render advisory opinions about this Code only when requested by a judge to whom this Code applies. Requests for opinions and other questions concerning this Code and its applicability should be addressed to the Chair of the Committee on Codes of Conduct by email or as follows:
“I’m assuming you’re a lawyer, my friend. So I’m curious about your language and the notion that our commentary here represents “far more” of a disservice to pro se litigants than do lawyers. You’ve got a pretty low opinion of your profession.” See, this is exactly the kind of crap I’m talking about, and what’s worse is that you can literally read the entire entry that I wrote and see that I did NOT write that the commentary here represents more of a disservice to pro se litigants than lawyers do a disservice to pro se litigants. However, this entire article is rife with misrepresentations. You give a false definition of litigation privilege. You call normal parts of litigation lawyer’s tricks, like requests to admit (which are in state rules of civil procedure, and pro se litigants can send requests to admit, too). What you call lawyer’s crap in negotiations is just what you have to expect in a negotiation whether or not you’re a lawyer. Your description of stare decisis is deceptive: appellate courts don’t “give excuses” for not overturning lower court’s decisions. I mean, I get it: if you didn’t feed this David-and-Goliath complex, you wouldn’t have a marketing angle. I don’t think that pro se litigants can’t handle small cases that don’t require a lot of discovery or witnesses, and when the facts are on their side, why not? And yes, you should always have a court reporter if possible, but if you plan to make an appeal, you should also know what to say, particularly what to object to on the record, for an appeal. I don’t think that encouraging paranoid beliefs about litigation and lawyers is helpful. From this side, dealing with a pro se litigant who has a chip on their shoulder, thinks everything the lawyer does is to hurt them personally, that the fact that we don’t break attorney-client privilege simply because they want us to is shady business, that upholding our duty to represent our clients is a personal attack and such makes me think that you don’t know what you want. Do you want to go to court acting as your own lawyer, thus being treated like a lawyer and held to the same standards and dealing with the same things new lawyers deal with (even if you screw up. Ask lawyers about their first court appearances), or do you want to not be treated as a lawyer and have the rules bent just for you?
This research was approved by the Carnegie Mellon University Institutional Review Board. Seventy-seven Carnegie Mellon students and community members (N = 77) were recruited (52% female; age: M = 21.0, SD = 2.2; 56% Caucasian, 23% Asian, 8% African American, 3% Mixed, 10% Other) in exchange for psychology class credit or $8. Participants were randomly assigned to the self-affirmation condition (N = 39) or control condition (N = 38), and to the self-video (N = 37) or other-video (N = 40) condition in a 2 × 2 between-subjects factorial design. A G*Power analysis indicates that at 80% power, 73 subjects are needed to detect a large overall effect with this 2 × 2 design and a continuous moderator variable (trait self-compassion).

Any waiver of the right to counsel must be knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.  The Faretta court stated that "a defendant need not have the skill and experience of a lawyer, but should be made aware of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation, so that the record will establish that he knows what he is doing and "the choice is made with eyes open."  See Faretta.  In 2004, the Court acknowledged that it has not prescribed any formula regarding the information a defendant must possess in order to make an intelligent choice.  See Iowa v. Tovar, 541 U.S. 77 (2004).  According to the Court, determining whether a waiver of counsel is intelligent depends on "a range of case-specific factors, including the defendant's education or sophistication, the complex or easily grasped nature of the charge, and the stage of the proceeding."  See Tovar.
This book explains each step of the civil litigation process from pre-litigation investigation through trial on the merits to give you the best chance of prevailing in your efforts whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant. Its detailed explanations of the various requirements of the litigation process are supported with detailed checklists that insure you leave nothing to chance as you work through the process and help you avoid the costly mistakes pro se litigants commonly make as they fight their lawsuits.

17See Self-Represented Litigation Network, “Model Code of Judicial Conduct Provisions on Self-Represented Litigation: Options for Alternative Comment Language Prepared in Support of Potential State Activity in Response to 2012 Resolution 2 of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators” (Williamsburg, Va.: National Center for State Courts, 2013).
Our mission is to arm our customers with their own legal knowledge and instill a sense of confidence and security in navigating the pro se legal journey. Involvement in a lawsuit, whether brought by you or against, can be a very intimidating, emotional and overwhelming endeavor. Pro Se One Stop Legal Document Services, LLC offers personalized, one-on-one services to allay your fears and arm you with the knowledge to handle your own legal matters with utmost confidence. You will work very closely and personally with your legal document specialist to achieve your goals.
Telling someone “Trust me” is usually a dead giveaway that they should do exactly the opposite. A trustworthy person doesn’t need to insist on it. Professions of the need for trust are a pretty good sign that someone is trying to sell you something. Herman Melville’s The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, the last novel he published in his lifetime, which met with scathing and uncomprehending reviews, plays around with this theme. It’s a disorienting string of loosely connected scenes, tracking the schemes of a shapeshifting trickster aboard a Mississippi steamboat who solicits his fellow passengers through a variety of pitches, always insisting on the need for confidence in the goodness of the world.
Appropriate action may include direct communication with the judge or lawyer, other direct action if available, reporting the conduct to the appropriate authorities, or, when the judge believes that a judge’s or lawyer’s conduct is caused by drugs, alcohol, or a medical condition, making a confidential referral to an assistance program. Appropriate action may also include responding to a subpoena to testify or otherwise cooperating with or participating in judicial or lawyer disciplinary proceedings; a judge should be candid and honest with disciplinary authorities.

Within the boundaries of applicable law (see, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 953) a judge may express opposition to the persecution of lawyers and judges anywhere in the world if the judge has ascertained, after reasonable inquiry, that the persecution is occasioned by conflict between the professional responsibilities of the persecuted judge or lawyer and the policies or practices of the relevant government.
Few places in Melville’s day could be more representative of a market society than a Mississippi steamboat. It is a place in a constant state of flux. Arrivals, departures, and the passage from one port to the next create a stream of strangers, an environment in which all interactions are constrained by the impermanence of the contact between the parties. Melville’s description of the boat is almost Heraclitean:
Oh my Lord Sonja, you’re my new hero! I went at it with an attorney on Avvo; I asked a legal question and he more or less belittled me for thinking that I had a case and then for thinking that I could actually handle it on my own. This guy was a real jerk! l know I have a winning case but there are not many lawyers in my area that are familiar enough with the statutes to take it pro bono and therefore take the risk. Even the legal opinions that I’ve read say the case law is sparse. Thank you for standing up for pro se litigants and setting the record straight.
[p]ro se litigation is difficult for us to handle at least in part because it doesn’t fit into the neat box of our traditional system of litigation, the adversarial method of resolving disputes. That system assumes that the parties know the law, are adept at procedure and the rules of evidence, and can marshal significant facts, present their side of the case to the factfinder thoroughly and lance the arguments of the opponent. But pro se litigants are capable of little if any of that.
Or at least R.I.P. for non-lawyer pro se litigants. Just when you thought the Supreme Court season had finally come to a close, the Court released a new rule book this morning. It’s 80 pages long and mostly a rehash, but the addition of Rule 28.8 garnered some attention for finally closing a door on the practice of non-lawyers arguing before the Court.
Don’t you think consistency requires that you should either say ‘I have confidence in all men,’ and take down your notification; or else say, ‘I suspect all men,’ and keep it up."...To say that strangers are not to be trusted, does not that imply something like saying that mankind is not to be trusted; for the mass of mankind, are they not necessarily strangers to each individual man?
Canon 4D(1), (2), and (3). Canon 3 requires disqualification of a judge in any proceeding in which the judge has a financial interest, however small. Canon 4D requires a judge to refrain from engaging in business and from financial activities that might interfere with the impartial performance of the judge’s judicial duties. Canon 4H requires a judge to report compensation received for activities outside the judicial office. A judge has the rights of an ordinary citizen with respect to financial affairs, except for limitations required to safeguard the proper performance of the judge’s duties. A judge’s participation in a closely held family business, while generally permissible, may be prohibited if it takes too much time or involves misuse of judicial prestige or if the business is likely to come before the court on which the judge serves. Owning and receiving income from investments do not as such affect the performance of a judge’s duties.

"It can be beneficial for self-represented litigants to work informally with one another and with other nonattorneys to acquire and spread information about navigating the eviction process.  We acknowledge, of course, that it is unlawful for any nonattorney to engage in the unauthorized practice of law -- for instance, by signing and filing a complaint on behalf of an unrepresented litigant.  ...But there are plenty of ways for nonattorneys to assist litigants without venturing into the unauthorized practice of law.  ... In a complex, high-stakes process where the right to counsel is not guaranteed and professional assistance is not universally available, the assistance provided by nonattorneys may be the only way for many litigants to learn about and assert their rights."
We tested two predictions in Study 2: (1) whether self-affirmation increased feelings of self-compassion but not compassionate feelings toward others, and (2) whether trait self-compassion moderates the self-affirmation self-compassion effect, such that self-affirmation would be more likely to increase self-compassionate feelings among participants who had pre-existing low levels of trait self-compassion. To test these predictions, we conducted a multiple regression analysis that modeled the self-affirmation × video condition interaction, and the 3-way trait self-compassion × self-affirmation × video condition interaction. Specifically, this multiple regression analysis included the trait self-compassion continuous predictor variable, self-affirmation condition (self-affirmation = 1 or control = 0), and video condition (self = 1 or other video = 0) as predictor variables, along with their two-way interactions, and one 3-way interaction term. Table ​Table11 provides the results of this multiple regression analysis for compassionate feelings to the storytelling video, and Figure ​Figure33 visually depicts the results. Notably, this regression analysis revealed a significant main effect of video condition, such that those who watched their own video had lower feelings of compassion than those who watched the confederate’s video [β = -2.31, t(69) = -3.96, p < 0.005]. Moreover, we observed a significant trait self-compassion × video condition interaction, showing that participants lower in trait self-compassion rated their own video less favorably relative to participants higher in trait self-compassion (whereas trait self-compassion did not impact ratings of a peer’s video). This result conceptually replicates previous research showing that trait self-compassion moderates behavioral self-compassion to a storytelling video (Leary et al., 2007).
To test the hypothesis that self-affirmation increases pro-social behavior, participants provided two measures of helping behavior (see Measures). First, participants completed an indirect survey measure of hypothetical charitable giving. Second, participants’ helping behavior was measured in response to a surprise shelf-collapse incident that occurred while they completed some final questionnaires. The experimenter waited 1 min after the completion of these questionnaires before re-entering the room to pick up the fallen shelf items if participants had not already done so. Participants were then probed for suspicion (none were suspicious about the shelf-collapse incident), debriefed, and dismissed.
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.
While the Due Process Clause does not require the provision of counsel in a civil contempt case for failure to pay child support when the opposing parent is not represented by counsel, the court should provide "alternative procedural safeguards," such as "adequate notice of the importance of ability to pay, fair opportunity to present, and to dispute, relevant information, and court findings."
access to justice admissions affirmative defenses answer appeal bias case analysis Case Manager civil legal aid complaint constitution court reporter criminal discovery elements of a claim emotions eviction evidence hearing hearings how to win in court judicial bias jurisdiction justice Lawyers We Love legal analysis legal argument Legal Bits legal case management legal research litigation litigation stages litigation strategy motion for summary judgment motion to dismiss oral argument pro se litigants pro se litigation Richard Zorza rules of civil procedure self-representation statute of limitations strategy summary judgment unbundled legal services
Your Day in Court. This is a video clip from King County, Washington featuring Judge Mary Yu and Stephen Gonzalez.  Judge Yu explains the basic layout of the courthouse and Judge Gonzalez talks about courtroom procedure.  The information in this video is designed for pro se users of the King County court system but it is general enough that court users in any state can benefit from viewing it.
The Center helps judges and courts advance access to civil justice, especially for poor and low-income individuals, by offering resources on 15 strategies and technical assistance. It works closely with the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators and other national court organizations to implement access-to-justice solutions.
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.[74] Google Scholar is the biggest database of full text state and federal courts decisions that can be accessed without charge.[75] These web search engines often allow pro se to select specific state courts to search.[74]
Judges support civil legal aid as a means of ensuring that the most vulnerable people in society can have decent, safe, and healthy lives. Adversarial proceedings regularly involve basic human needs, such as shelter, food, safety, health, and child custody. They regularly affect vulnerable groups such as senior citizens, domestic violence victims, and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
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).
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.
Show your best face to the world--whatever that means for you. When you feel comfortable in your own skin, everyone knows. If you like to go out in a dress and heels, or a well-cut suit, go for it. If you prefer to stay comfy in a pair of sweats and flip-flops, there's no shame in that either. Dress how you want. The You'll undoubtedly exude confident, assuring energy.
8. Don't forget to fill out the Pro Se Motion to Commence an Action Without Payment. Each court has a different standard of who can afford to pay, and who can't. People on SSI typically do not have to pay any fees. People who work may be asked to pay as much as $150. It's important to keep this in mind when your group is deciding who will be the plaintiff. The plaintiff should outline exactly why he thinks he should not have to pay fees. Look at the enclosed copy for an example of a person's form who did not have to pay fees.
This can be a humbling and learning experience.  Sometimes, despite our convictions or our research, there will be times we will miss or misinterpret the point and be wrong.  Thinking law and litigation is a mixture of morality, common sense and fairness is a common source of this experience.  Morality, common sense and fairness may be elements in the drafting of laws, but the implementation of law may not favor morality, common sense or fairness as these terms are generally defined.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.
Check to see if you qualify for a fee waiver that would allow you to proceed without paying any (or some) court fees. Every jurisdiction is different, but this usually involves filing an application or motion to waive fees, which a judge then reviews and makes a ruling. You will likely need to produce evidence showing that you cannot afford to pay court fees (e.g., affidavit, declaration, bills, bank statements, etc.). 

Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His first two books gained much attention, though they were not bestsellers, and his popularity declined precipitously only a few years later. By the time of his death he had been almost completely forgotten, but his longest novel, Moby-Dick — largely considered a failure d ...more
Aside from her family appellate matters, Christa has also been successful in small claims. In 2017 Christa brought a pro se complaint against an auto body repair shop after it made faulty repairs to her vehicle. The shop hired an aggressive attorney, but Christa successfully pushed the case to a settlement for the full amount of her claim. Although Christa cannot and will not offer legal advice, she genuinely engages with her clients, is always happy to lend a listening ear and to share her own pro se experiences. Christa encourages her customers to educate themselves of the system and the laws which she believes results in an empowered and confident pro se litigant.  
Pro se litigants have been steadily increasing over the past decade. The right of an individual to represent his/her own cause has long been legally permissible, dating back to the birth of our nation and signed into law by our first president, George Washington. (Laws do exist, however, barring certain types of individual representation in order to protect the parties involved.)

It's an uphill climb! Particularly, when your adversary has a thorough understanding of the rules of evidence, and procedure. You may get some latitude from the court as a pro se, but you may not, as it is up to the judge. Either way, the better question is why don't you have a lawyer on your side? Is it because some lawyers have not seen enough strength in the facts and law in your case? If that's the case, then you have an even steeper climb as you have a difficult case to prove, let alone that it's against a seasoned "high profile" lawyer. If you haven't consulted with an attorney, please do so before you do anything further as a pro se, and perhaps jeopardize your claim irreparably.


(C) Fund Raising. A judge may assist nonprofit law-related, civic, charitable, educational, religious, or social organizations in planning fund-raising activities and may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee. A judge may solicit funds for such an organization from judges over whom the judge does not exercise supervisory or appellate authority and from members of the judge’s family. Otherwise, a judge should not personally participate in fund-raising activities, solicit funds for any organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for that purpose. A judge should not personally participate in membership solicitation if the solicitation might reasonably be perceived as coercive or is essentially a fund-raising mechanism.
Attorney Bonanno's answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should carefully consider advice from an attorney hired and who has all facts necessary to properly advise a client, which is why these answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Canon 2A. An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge’s honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired. Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges, including harassment and other inappropriate workplace behavior. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. This prohibition applies to both professional and personal conduct. A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny and accept freely and willingly restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen. Because it is not practicable to list all prohibited acts, the prohibition is necessarily cast in general terms that extend to conduct by judges that is harmful although not specifically mentioned in the Code. Actual improprieties under this standard include violations of law, court rules, or other specific provisions of this Code.


But this passage reminds us of the continuing tradition of morning dress for the Solicitor General’s office before the Supreme Court. If it already looked stupid in 1948, it definitely looks stupid now. Adhering to tradition for the mere sake of tradition is small-minded. After Elena Kagan dumped the practice — since wearing what is essentially a tuxedo is less than flattering for a woman — there was some reason to believe it would join powdered wigs in the dustbin of American legal history. No such luck.

When you go into a foreign country and want to communicate with the inhabitants, you have to talk THEIR lingo. Courtrooms are a foreign country and they have their own language. "Complaint language" (or "law talk") is what they call it. If you don't use it in your pleadings (that's what documents you file with the court are), you will not only not be listened to and taken seriously, you will not be HEARD. They will literally not SEE the words on the page if they are not written in their "language."
Reflecting on an important personal value in a self-affirmation activity has been shown to improve psychological functioning in a broad range of studies, but the underlying mechanisms for these self-affirmation effects are unknown. Here we provide an initial test of a novel self-compassion account of self-affirmation in two experimental studies. Study 1 shows that an experimental manipulation of self-affirmation (3-min of writing about an important personal value vs. writing about an unimportant value) increases feelings of self-compassion, and these feelings in turn mobilize more pro-social behaviors to a laboratory shelf-collapse incident. Study 2 tests and extends these effects by evaluating whether self-affirmation increases feelings of compassion toward the self (consistent with the self-compassion account) or increases feelings of compassion toward others (an alternative other-directed compassion account), using a validated storytelling behavioral task. Consistent with a self-compassion account, Study 2 demonstrates the predicted self-affirmation by video condition interaction, indicating that self-affirmation participants had greater feelings of self-compassion in response to watching their own storytelling performance (self-compassion) compared to watching a peer’s storytelling performance (other-directed compassion). Further, pre-existing levels of trait self-compassion moderated this effect, such that self-affirmation increased self-compassionate responses the most in participants low in trait self-compassion. This work suggests that self-compassion may be a promising mechanism for self-affirmation effects, and that self-compassionate feelings can mobilize pro-social behaviors.
(2) A judge may serve as an officer, director, active partner, manager, advisor, or employee of a business only if the business is closely held and controlled by members of the judge’s family. For this purpose, “members of the judge’s family” means persons related to the judge or the judge’s spouse within the third degree of relationship as defined in Canon 3C(3)(a), any other relative with whom the judge or the judge’s spouse maintains a close familial relationship, and the spouse of any of the foregoing.

Settle! Of course, given the unique obstacles involved with litigating against a pro se party—including the absence of the important buffer between the party and his or her emotions and, more times than not, unreasonable expectations—the key to trial success may be avoiding trial altogether! To that end, early alternative dispute resolution proceedings can be exceedingly beneficial. A neutral third party can often insert reasonableness otherwise lacking into the pro se party’s view of the strengths and weaknesses of the case.
Canon 4B. The changing nature of some organizations and their exposure to litigation make it necessary for a judge regularly to reexamine the activities of each organization with which the judge is affiliated to determine if the judge’s continued association is appropriate. For example, in many jurisdictions, charitable hospitals are in court more often now than in the past.
Although Canon 2C relates only to membership in organizations that invidiously discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or national origin, a judge’s membership in an organization that engages in any invidiously discriminatory membership practices prohibited by applicable law violates Canons 2 and 2A and gives the appearance of impropriety. In addition, it would be a violation of Canons 2 and 2A for a judge to arrange a meeting at a club that the judge knows practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin in its membership or other policies, or for the judge to use such a club regularly. Moreover, public manifestation by a judge of the judge’s knowing approval of invidious discrimination on any basis gives the appearance of impropriety under Canon 2 and diminishes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, in violation of Canon 2A.
17See Self-Represented Litigation Network, “Model Code of Judicial Conduct Provisions on Self-Represented Litigation: Options for Alternative Comment Language Prepared in Support of Potential State Activity in Response to 2012 Resolution 2 of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators” (Williamsburg, Va.: National Center for State Courts, 2013).
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.[41]
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