Deference to the judgments and rulings of courts depends on public confidence in the integrity and independence of judges. The integrity and independence of judges depend in turn on their acting without fear or favor. Although judges should be independent, they must comply with the law and should comply with this Code. Adherence to this responsibility helps to maintain public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. Conversely, violation of this Code diminishes public confidence in the judiciary and injures our system of government under law.
Public Counsel's Federal Pro Se Clinic can provide free legal assistance to people representing themselves in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The Clinic does not assist with criminal, bankruptcy, habeas, appeals, or any state cases. The Clinic does not provide representation in court and cannot find an attorney to represent you.
Where does any novelist pick up any character? For the most part, in town, to be sure. Every great town is a kind of man-show, where the novelist goes for his stock, just as the agriculturist goes to the cattle-show for his. But in the one fair, new species of quadrupeds are hardly more rare, than in the other are new species of characters—that is, original ones.
Like the self-transcendence account, our Study 1 outcome showing that self-affirmation increases pro-social behavior is consistent with the idea that self-affirmation fosters social connectedness (Crocker et al., 2008; Burson et al., 2012), but our Study 2 findings suggest that these compassionate feelings may be directed toward the self (and not toward a peer). However, further research is necessary to clarify this finding. In Study 1, feelings of compassion boost pro-social behavior, but in Study 2, other-directed feelings of compassion are not impacted by self-affirmation writing. A ceiling effect may explain this seeming difference; the confederate “other” storytelling video we used was rather high quality, and may not have solicited a need for compassion, thus explaining the lack of variability in participants’ responses across conditions. Or, it’s possible that watching a peer’s slightly embarrassing video might not elicit a compassionate vs. judgmental response comparable to feelings of self-compassion vs. self-judgment in response to the self video. Future work is needed to establish whether self-affirmation also increases compassionate feelings for others in need, perhaps using different methods to compare self- vs. other-directed compassionate responses.
If you are a judge interested in teaching a lesson to elementary, middle or high school students, please explore Judges in the Classroom. Proven interactive lesson plans are available for download from the website that focus on the law and legal process. You may also sign up as an interested judge to be contacted if teachers from your area request a judge.
“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?
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.
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In response to the shortage of lawyers, despite insufficient resources, many court systems are trying to find ways to level the playing field by making legal forms and processes simpler and easier to use by people without lawyers. Simplification works for some kinds of cases, but it is not a substitute for lawyers when people have complicated substantive or procedural defenses or claims to pursue. Providing a lawyer, or a legal problem-solver, to those who cannot afford one is often the only way to equalize justice. Other forms of legal assistance are helpful and necessary, but they are inadequate to close the gap in access to justice.
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 United States judicial system is designed to be adversarial, to resolve disputes of fact and law before a neutral judge.1 The premise of the system is that each party in a court case is capable of understanding and using the law, since each must present the law and the facts to the judge. An effective adversarial system requires the presence of legally trained experts, typically lawyers, on both sides of a case.
Federal courts can impose liability for the prevailing party's attorney fees to the losing party if the judge considers the case frivolous or for purpose of harassment, even when the case was voluntarily dismissed. In the case of Fox v. Vice, U.S. Supreme Court held that reasonable attorneys' fees could be awarded to the defendant under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988, but only for costs that the defendant would not have incurred "but for the frivolous claims." Unless there is an actual trial or judgment, if there is only pre-trial motion practice such as motions to dismiss, attorney fee shifting can only be awarded under FRCP Rule 11 and it requires that the opposing party file a Motion for Sanctions and that the court issue an order identifying the sanctioned conduct and the basis for the sanction. Pro se still has a right to appeal any order for sanctions in the higher court. In the state courts, however, each party is generally responsible only for its own attorney fees, with certain exceptions.
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.
Limit the scope of trial. Pursuant to federal and state rules of evidence and procedure, courts are responsible for establishing ground rules to efficiently manage and regulate trial practice and trial testimony. This is especially important when trial involves a pro se party because the lack of substantive and procedural knowledge can create an ever-changing, and often ever-expanding, litigation framework. Accordingly, trial counsel should make use of pretrial briefing mechanisms—including motions in limine and bench memoranda—to limit the issues for trial. Pretrial briefing affords the pro se litigant the opportunity to have his or her voice heard on the issues while efficiently framing the matters for trial. If the rules of court do not impose page limits on the particular mode of briefing being used, trial counsel should ask the court to set a page limit to help focus the discussion. In addition, trial counsel should consider asking the court to allow the parties to submit in advance their questions for direct examination to both limit improper objections and further focus the testimony on relevant, admissible evidence.
In the constant flurry of change characteristic of capitalism, trust in general certainties is possible even as fixed, particular certainties constantly dissolve. The structures that make this general trust possible also give rise to specific mistrust, since there isn’t anything to fall back upon in most instances other than the generalized laws of the market. This is why impersonal advertising tries to imitate personal connections, simulate homes and families, friendships and sex, to tie the generalized sense of products to a specific sensation. It’s this ambiguous spot that the confidence-man preys upon. There’s a kind of hypocrisy or bad faith that comes out when you’re skeptical of a particular stranger. If you have nice ideas about humanity, how can you justify brushing someone off? You should at least hear them out. And what they’re selling isn’t that expensive—how about two for the price of one—and it was nice to talk to someone, anyone, for a few minutes. The confidence-man is the person you shouldn’t trust who shows you how bad it is that you don’t trust people. The essence of the scam, the false promise of the con man, is this contradiction between trust and mistrust. And in fact, we experience participation in a capitalist society like this all the time, whether we’re blasting our banks for hidden fees or Facebook for changing its appearance. These companies couldn’t care less about us, and yet we place an unjustifiable amount of emotional investment in them, expect loyalty, and then get upset when they treat us as dumb sources of money.
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.: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.:22 53% found that represented parties sometimes or frequently take advantage of pro se parties.:23 Only 5% reported problems of pro ses behaving inappropriately at hearings.:24 Respondents to the FJC study did not report any orders against non prisoner pro se litigation.