Do I have the time and resources available to represent myself pro se? As you can see, there is a lot of learn before representing yourself at a child custody hearing. Parents considering pro se representation should carefully consider whether they have the time, determination, and undivided attention necessary to dedicate to this task before deciding to go it alone in court. 

1. If you don't know where your federal court is, look under "U.S. Government Offices ‹ U.S. Courts" in the blue or green pages of your phone book. When you find out which district court is yours, add it at the top of your pro se where it reads, "in the United States District Court for the [ ] district of [your state]." Don't worry yet about the Civil Action No. The clerk will give that to you at your district court office.
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.
Let’s say you go to court and a court reporter is not present. You argue very strong points against an attorney with weak ones. Despite both the law and facts on your side, you lose. Think an appellate court will understand what went wrong and overturn the ruling? Probably not. Appellate courts will find many excuses not to overturn a lower court ruling. Without a court reporter’s transcript, an appellate court will say that the lower court was in the best position to evaluate the arguments made. Then, they’ll let the lower court decision stand. A court reporter, on the other hand, creates an official record of proceedings that can be sent to the appellate court. In the lower court, the simple presence of a court reporter greatly curtails judicial bias and bad behavior from lawyers. With that, you have a better chance of getting a fair hearing. To learn more about the effect of court reporters on judges and lawyers see, A Court Reporter Stops All Foolishness.
The confidence-man occupies the point of slippage between trust and distrust. If you distrust me, he says, you must distrust all men, and what a wretched way to live that would be. If you trust all men, he says, and I am a man, you must trust me. As he argues, he relies on an image of humanity in the abstract that is to be trusted, and from that he derives his own trustworthiness. This is the same move we have to make to have trust under capitalism. In a pre-modern community, trust is always specific, given to particular individuals based on a complex network of social ties. Under capitalism, trust is generalized, given to people and things on the basis of their being instances of abstract conditions. A dollar bill, a brand of product, an anonymous stranger are all trustworthy because of their resemblance to other things, not their specific qualities.
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."
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.
"I did not have sexual relations with Monica Lowinsky."  Ms. Lowinsky's allegations involved oral sex.  The definition of sexual relations does NOT include oral sex. President Clinton never denied Ms. Lowinsky's sexual allegation....but millions thought he did!  "There is no improper relationship."  There isn't now, but WAS there?  Many of us are raised speaking and writing without precision. We fill in the gaps with what we believe is the intended meaning.  Precision in the spoken and written word will take time to learn.  
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.
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.

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.


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.
Money changes people, but it also is changed itself. All cash is change. In Debt: The First 5,000 Years, David Graeber, drawing on British classicist Richard Seaford’s Money and the Early Greek Mind, suggests a link between the history of coinage and that of philosophy. The Greek city of Miletus was, around 600 BC, perhaps the first city where coins instead of credit were used in daily life. Around the same time, Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes were arguing that there was a universal substance that could turn into everything else—water, or air, or a special substance called the apeiron. They theorized that this material could, under different conditions, be transmuted into anything. The analogy is clearer if you think of gold as the universal substance The metal in a coin has its own physical characteristics, as do seashells or fire or the enormous stone disks of the isle of Yap. Owing to particular social circumstances, that metal has an additional property of being exchangeable for anything, provided you have enough of it and someone else has and will give up what you want. But here one runs into a contradiction that's vexed thinkers since the Axial Age. Are there fixed, natural reasons for gold to be worth something, or is it an arbitrary social convention? It’s been very important to a number of people to insist that there’s a particular value embodied in gold. This is a question about how much you can trust money.

Our research provides a promising indication of the pro-social benefits of self-affirmation and self-compassionate feelings. It is perhaps not surprising that feelings of compassion have been associated with increased helping behavior (Mikulincer et al., 2005; Hutcherson et al., 2008; Piff et al., 2010, Study 4), but no published studies (to our knowledge) have tested whether self-compassionate feelings can mobilize helping behavior. His Holiness The Dalai Lama poignantly stated this possibility when he said “If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.” Our study provides an initial experimental demonstration of this idea; we find that increasing feelings of self-compassion (via a self-affirmation activity) can mobilize helping behaviors (to a shelf-collapse incident). Thus self-affirmation may address internally derived self-threats (increasing self-compassion), which in turn allow one to transcend these self-concerns and focus on helping others. Our work joins previous work showing that self-compassion may also act as a buffer to self-threatening events and negative emotions (Neff, 2003a; Leary et al., 2007).

(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.
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.
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.
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment. No portion of this course may be published, duplicated, shared, or used by anyone other than the currently registered subscriber.
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.

IAALS recently released two new reports focused on the experiences of self-represented litigants in the family court system.  Cases Without Counsel: Research on Experiences of Self-Representation in U.S. Family Court which explores the issues from the litigants' perspective.  Cases Without Counsel: Our Recommendations after Listening to the Litigants outlines recommendations for courts, legal service providers, and communities to best serve self-represented litigants in family cases.
[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.
The BIGGEST mistake pro se litigants make is thinking they know more than they do, as a way of overcompensating for lack of confidence. False bravado can lead you into mistakes #2, #3, and #4 on this list and a whole lot more. You don’t bring a court reporter because you don’t feel you need one. You don’t do research because you don’t have time, and you think you know enough. You react to or challenge every lawyer trick because you believe, without any evidence, that it’s the best thing to do. You talk about admiralty law, not because you know anything about it or where it fits into your case, but because you heard someone talk about it. You file the wrong motions in the wrong situations. It’s important to know what you don’t know and act accordingly. Instead of talking about sovereign citizenship, talk about and use civil procedure. Rather than reacting to lawyer antics, judicial bias or a sense of unfairness, focus on your case. Learn it backwards and forwards, and then bring your court reporter. That’s how you win. See Sovereign Citizens Make Pro Se Litigants Look Silly for more about the “problem” with sovereign citizens.
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.
There are some notable records of pro se litigants winning more than $2,000 as plaintiffs: Robert Kearns, inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper who won more than $10 million from Ford for patent infringement; Dr. Julio Perez (District of Southern New York 10-cv-08278) won approximately $5 million in a federal jury trial from Progenics Pharmaceuticals for wrongful termination as a result of whistleblowing; Reginald and Roxanna Bailey (District of Missouri 08-cv-1456), a married couple, who together won $140,000 from Allstate Insurance in a federal jury trial; George M. Cofield, a pro se janitor, won $30,000 from the City of Atlanta in 1980; and Jonathan Odom, a pro se prisoner, who while still a prisoner, won $19,999 from the State of New York in a jury trial.[42][43][44] Timothy-Allen Albertson, who appeared in pro. per., was awarded $3,500 in 1981 in a judgment by the San Francisco Municipal Court entered against the Universal Life Church for defamation by one of its ministers.[45]
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