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.
Laws and organizations charged with regulating judicial conduct may also affect pro se litigants. For example, the Judicial Council of California officially advocates treating self-represented litigants fairly.[9] The California rules allow for accommodating mistakes by a pro se litigant that would otherwise result in a dismissal, if the case is otherwise merited.[10] In addition the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure rule 56 on summary judgments notes that pro se litigants may need additional advice with regard to necessity of responding a summary judgment motion.[11]
I finally decided to invest in the program and start to learn "How to Win in Court"! Your program saved me. Learning the rules of court make a difference! The HOA dropped the case. Thank you for everything! I now can start my life over after 10 years of unfounded harassment from greedy people who don't care! The only regret is I did not order your program sooner. ... Becca C.

You will deal with all sorts of absurdities, injustices and indignities.  You will be told nonsense and lies with people looking you straight in the eye. You must learn to stare absurdities, injustices and indignities square in the face without losing your cool while still defending yourself.  Being outraged or emotional does NOT carry the weight it may carry outside the courtroom.
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).
Then, participants were randomly assigned to either watch their own video or a female study confederate’s video, whom participants believed to be the previous study participant. After watching the storytelling video, participants completed an 8-item measure of how they felt while watching the (self or peer) video, which served as our primary measure of compassionate feelings. Specifically, participants rated eight feeling adjectives [relaxed, happy, sad (reverse-scored), proud, embarrassed (reverse-scored), irritable (reverse-scored), nervous (reverse-scored), peaceful] using 7-point Likert scales (1 = not at all to 7 = extremely). These items were summed to create a composite measure of compassionate feelings toward the self or other video (α = 0.83), with higher scores referencing higher compassionate feelings. Importantly, by asking participants, “How did you feel while watching your [the] video?” we were able to specifically probe feelings of self-compassion (or other-directed compassion) in response to this mildly embarrassing, impromptu storytelling playback. More positive feelings result from feelings of compassion, and less positive feelings reflect negative judgments and a critical response to the video. To evaluate the specificity of the self-compassionate feelings account, participants also completed a 9-item measure of their social perceptions in response to watching the storytelling video (see Leary et al., 2007, Study 4). Participants were asked to rate how they (or the peer) appeared in the video on nine performance dimensions [awkward (reverse-scored), confident, nervous (reverse-scored), creative, reasonable, competent, attractive, foolish (reverse-scored), likable] using 7-point Likert scales (1 = not at all to 7 = extremely) in response to the question, “How do you think you [the other participant] appeared on the video?” Like the compassionate feelings composite measure, the nine items were summed to create a composite measure of performance perceptions toward the self or other video (α = 0.83), with higher scores referencing higher social perceptions of performance during the storytelling task. Thus, we were able to measure two distinct aspects of self-compassion (and other-directed compassion): feelings of (self-) compassion and performance perceptions in response to the storytelling video. These behavioral ratings of self-compassion are positively related to trait self-compassion in previous work (Leary et al., 2007, Study 4). Participants completed a final demographics measure before being probed for suspicion, fully debriefed, and dismissed.
Lauren Sudeall Lucas is the Faculty Director of the Center for Access to Justice at the Georgia State University College of Law. She serves on the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and on the board of directors of the Southern Center for Human Rights. She has received research funding for a study regarding the civil legal needs of indigent criminal defendants from the Charles Koch Foundation.
Our present findings suggest that self-affirmation may increase feelings of self-compassion, and that self-compassion may be a promising new mechanism for a potentially broad range of self-affirmation effects. More research is needed, but the present research provides an initial suggestion that affirming an important personal value increases feelings of self-compassion for mobilizing a pro-social self.

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.
Reflecting on an important personal value in a self-affirmation exercise has been shown to have a broad range of beneficial effects across over 225 published studies (for reviews, see Sherman and Cohen, 2006; Cohen and Sherman, 2014). For example, a brief self-affirmation of an important personal value, such as writing about why you value friends and family, has been shown to buffer many different threats to the self, such as reducing rumination in response to failure feedback (Koole et al., 1999), lowering stress reactivity to social evaluation (Creswell et al., 2005, 2013), and in mitigating the effects of stereotype threat on academic performance in classroom settings (Cohen et al., 2006; Miyake et al., 2010). Despite this large body of work, the mechanisms of self-affirmation are not well specified, and currently two theoretical perspectives have been offered to explain how self-affirmation exerts its effects. A longstanding theoretical perspective posits that self-affirmation boosts one’s self-image for coping with self-threats (Sherman and Cohen, 2006). Although some studies provide support for this self-resources account (e.g., increasing self-esteem and self-regulatory strength; Schmeichel and Vohs, 2009; Sherman and Hartson, 2011), empirical support for this mechanistic explanation has been limited (Sherman and Cohen, 2006; Crocker et al., 2008). In contrast, a more recent theoretical perspective offers that self-affirmation enables one to transcend self-image concerns by increasing other-directed feelings (Crocker et al., 2008). In one influential study, Crocker et al. (2008) showed that affirmed participants reported greater feelings of love and connection, and that these feelings statistically explained how self-affirmation reduced defensiveness to a threatening health message.
But in the course of my experience, it became very apparent that the deck was stacked against me just because I was proceeding pro se – that is, representing myself, without an attorney. It's hard enough for a layman to win in court as it is, but the apparent disdain and discrimination that courts and judges show toward pro se litigants make it that much harder.

A fellow advocate member of DAC, our advocacy group, filed her Pro Se in Federal District Court, after waiting and waiting for DOJ to respond. She lives on a low fixed income, and was able to waive the filing fee. Within a week, she received her notification of receipt that her case is now pending in federal court. At the same time she received notification that the inaccessible business was being served the complaint by a federal marshal. Shortly after that, she received a letter from the attorney for the inaccessible business stating that they wanted to settle out of court. Of course!! We settled for full compliance with the ADA.
Proof that the plaintiff has the right to sue you.  In the case of a debt buyer, the debt buyer must prove that it owns your debt by showing the court the contract of sale.  This contract is called an “assignment.”  The assignment must mention your debt specifically.  If your debt has been bought and sold multiple times, the debt buyer must present a chain of assignments that goes all the way back to your original creditor.
We often talk to parents about whether to file for child custody pro se, a legal term also known as 'self-representation.' In general, we recommend that parents proceed with caution when it comes to filing for child custody or child support pro se. The following questions and tips can help you determine the best course of action related to your case.
(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.

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.
The Code is designed to provide guidance to judges and nominees for judicial office. It may also provide standards of conduct for application in proceedings under the Judicial Councils Reform and Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980 (28 U.S.C. §§ 332(d)(1), 351-364). Not every violation of the Code should lead to disciplinary action. Whether disciplinary action is appropriate, and the degree of discipline, should be determined through a reasonable application of the text and should depend on such factors as the seriousness of the improper activity, the intent of the judge, whether there is a pattern of improper activity, and the effect of the improper activity on others or on the judicial system. Many of the restrictions in the Code are necessarily cast in general terms, and judges may reasonably differ in their interpretation. Furthermore, the Code is not designed or intended as a basis for civil liability or criminal prosecution. Finally, the Code is not intended to be used for tactical advantage.
“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?

When relations are mediated by money, the pendulum between trust and mistrust can swing very rapidly. The confidence-man’s final tricks focus on the ethics of lending. In one scheme, the cosmopolitan, going by the over-the-top name of Frank Goodman, befriends a bit of a dim bulb named Charlie, and the two toast to the glory of friendship. After several pages of warmth, praise of geniality and companionship, the cosmopolitan lets Charlie in on a secret.


The plaintiff has to present quite a lot of evidence in order to meet its burden of proof.  This evidence is often difficult or expensive for the plaintiff to produce.  If your debt is old, or if it has been bought and sold multiple times, evidence of your debt may not exist at all.  It is almost always much easier and cheaper for the plaintiff to negotiate a settlement with you than to come up with all the evidence needed to meet the burden of proof.  That is why the plaintiff will nearly always want you to agree to a settlement.

Courts across the country are increasing the resources available to the surge of pro se litigants attempting to navigate the judicial system. Courts are not only addressing the legal and procedural obstacles facing pro se litigants, but they are also focusing on “sociological [and] psychological aspects of how unrepresented litigants feel about the overall litigation experience.” Id. at 3. Likewise, attorneys, and civil trial lawyers in particular, must be cautious of the challenges and special considerations involving pro se litigants.


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.

(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.


The plaintiff has to present quite a lot of evidence in order to meet its burden of proof.  This evidence is often difficult or expensive for the plaintiff to produce.  If your debt is old, or if it has been bought and sold multiple times, evidence of your debt may not exist at all.  It is almost always much easier and cheaper for the plaintiff to negotiate a settlement with you than to come up with all the evidence needed to meet the burden of proof.  That is why the plaintiff will nearly always want you to agree to a settlement.

Like the self-resources account, our findings indicate that self-affirmation boosts one’s self-image by increasing positive self-feelings, but provide additional specificity about the nature of these feelings; self-affirmation increases feelings related to self-compassion (e.g., sympathy, trust, and less criticism; Study 1). Like self-esteem, self-compassion predicts positive feeling states, but is distinguished by its more stable relationship to self-worth, independent of positive or negative outcomes (Neff and Vonk, 2009). Consistent with this, in response to a potentially embarrassing video of oneself, affirmed participants maintained positive self-feelings (Study 2). The effect of self-affirmation writing on self-compassion may explain why few studies have shown that self-affirmation increases general feelings of state self-esteem or positive affectivity (Sherman and Cohen, 2006).

Remember this phrase: Litigation Privilege. The phrase has a formal meaning, but in layman’s language it means that lawyers can do just about anything, especially to a self-represented litigant, to protect their clients. They can lie, steal, cheat–and kill if they could get away with it–to win. Lawyers don’t always need tricks to defeat pro se litigants, but they try them anyway. They can scare defendants into paying more than they owe or settling for far less than they deserve. They’ll use a request for admissions to make pro se litigants “admit” to undeserved liability by not answering. Some will even attempt to keep away your court reporter by lying to you or to your court reporting agency. So keep your eyes open when you’ve cornered a lawyer. Chances are, there’s a trick coming, and when it does, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Stay focused on your case. Reacting in anger by moving for sanctions, writing letters to the judge, reporting lawyer behavior in a hearing, or moving to disqualify a lawyer makes thinking and strategizing difficult. That’s not to say certain issues shouldn’t be addressed. If you must take an issue head-on, like moving for sanctions, do it strategically so you’ll get the most out of it. Otherwise, only address lawyer antics and judicial bias when it hurts your case, not when it hurts your feelings.
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.

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].
Do your homework and educate the court. It is important, at the outset of a case, for trial counsel to determine if he or she is litigating against a wolf in sheep’s clothing. “When the pro se litigant is really an expert litigant, the court’s sympathy for his presumed inexpertise diminishes markedly.” Scott L. Garland, “Avoiding Goliath’s Fate: Defeating a Pro Se Litigant,” Litigation, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Winter 1998), at 45, 50 (1998). A search of the county or state docket may reveal that the pro se party has actually been involved in numerous lawsuits and maybe has even been deemed a vexatious litigant. Armed with this knowledge, counsel is better equipped to handle both interacting with the self-represented party and convincing the court that the pro se party’s failure to follow the rules warrants sanctions.
Congress also has a role. In extreme cases it has the power to remove judges, of course. But short of that, it can at least underscore the seriousness of the rights it established for litigants in the Judiciary Act. Whether through binding or nonbinding language on the topic, Congress can make clear that complaints about violations of the rights of pro se litigants must be taken very seriously by judicial councils.
An attorney who represents himself or herself in a matter is still considered a pro se litigant. Self-representation by attorneys has frequently been the subject of criticism, disapproval, or satire, with the most famous pronouncement on the issue being British poet Samuel Johnson's[citation needed] aphorism that "the attorney who represents himself in court has a fool for a client."
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