Still others, like Self-Represented Litigation Network founder Richard Zorza, emphasize simplification of legal processes, including changing or eliminating the procedural and evidentiary rules that make the process so difficult. For example, the Tennessee Supreme Court has approved plain-language forms and instructions, written at a fifth- to eighth-grade reading level, for use in uncontested divorces between parties with minor children.
In some types of cases, not having counsel can make a dramatic difference. Take the example of low-income tenants facing eviction. Across the county, roughly 90 percent of landlords are represented by counsel, while 90 percent of tenants are not. Simply having a lawyer increases the odds of being able to stay in one’s home. When tenants represent themselves in New York City, they are evicted in nearly 50 percent of cases. With a lawyer, they win 90 percent of the time.
Depositions: A deposition is a question-and-answer session where a party can ask her opponent questions. Depositions are transcribed by a court reporter (AKA stenographer). Depositions can be expensive, especially if videotaped. Deposition transcripts cost anywhere from $2-5 per page. A single transcript could cost hundreds of dollars. A video copy will cost extra.
Some pro se litigants are intelligent and sophisticated. I recall one individual who represented himself in a case that proceeded to jury trial. He proved quite capable, and the verdict was in his favor. In other cases, the pro se parties are long on emotion and short on knowledge regarding law and procedure. This puts the judge in an uncomfortable position.
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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.
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.
The civil legal needs of both low- and moderate-income individuals in the United States are not being met.2 The need for legal assistance by over one hundred million people in this country is dire.3 Today’s courts look nothing like the ideal. Around the country, state and federal courts regularly encounter pro se litigants: that is, litigants without attorney representation.4 When opposed by an adversary with a lawyer, litigants representing themselves often lose even when the merits of the case favor them. The imbalance leads to injustice.
(4) A judge should accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, and that person’s lawyer, the full right to be heard according to law. Except as set out below, a judge should not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications or consider other communications concerning a pending or impending matter that are made outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers. If a judge receives an unauthorized ex parte communication bearing on the substance of a matter, the judge should promptly notify the parties of the subject matter of the communication and allow the parties an opportunity to respond, if requested. A judge may:
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.
This Code applies to United States circuit judges, district judges, Court of International Trade judges, Court of Federal Claims judges, bankruptcy judges, and magistrate judges. Certain provisions of this Code apply to special masters and commissioners as indicated in the “Compliance” section. The Tax Court, Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces have adopted this Code.
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.
In a California study of family matters, one party appeared pro se in 2/3 of all domestic relations cases and in 40% of all child custody cases in 1991-95. California reports in 2001 that over 50% of the filings in custody and visitation are by pro se litigants. Urban courts report that approximately 80% of the new divorce filings are filed pro se.