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.
Shauna Strickland. Virginia Self-Represented Litigant Study: Outcomes of Civil Cases in General District Court, Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court, and Circuit Court. (December 2017). This report characterizes Circuit Court civil cases by analyzing caseload composition, the presence of legal representation, the level of case contention, and case outcomes.
I prefer the definition that describes prose as a literary medium that is different from poetry in that prose has a more varied rhythm and is usually expressed in more ordinary, everyday language. This is what I sometimes term literary prose, the prose of essays, memoirs, short stories, and novels. And it is this type of prose that I address in ProseAct.
You should not ignore a debt collection lawsuit because you cannot find a lawyer. Hundreds of low income New Yorkers defend themselves in debt collection cases every single day, and many do so successfully. Luckily, a debt collection case is relatively simple and straightforward as compared to other kinds of legal problems. Debt collection attorneys often rely on the fact that unrepresented defendants do not know their rights. Fight back by educating yourself about your case! Read the information in these pages to familiarize yourself with the court process and the issues you will face as a pro se defendant (“pro se” means “without a lawyer”). If possible, consult with the NYC Financial Justice Hotline or another attorney to obtain individualized advice about potential defenses you may have. In our experience, a little information goes an incredibly long way.
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.
“One statistic asserts that 90 percent of Americans will face a lawsuit at some point in their lives,” Zeidwig points out. “Yes, it’s possible to represent yourself in court, but you need to know specifically what to do in order to be best prepared. For example, how much time you have to file documents and such is rigid — if you miss the deadline, you’re in serious trouble.”
Pro se litigants may have a lower chance of success. The Louisiana Court of Appeals tracks the results of pro se appeals against represented appeals. In 2000, 7% of writs in civil appeals submitted to the court pro se were granted, compared to 46% of writs submitted by counsel. In criminal cases the ratio is closer - 34% of pro se writs were granted, compared with 45% of writs submitted by counsel. According to Erica J. Hashimoto, an assistant professor at the Georgia School of Law,:
Other voices in the citizenry must join with the judiciary to ensure that adequate funding is available to provide lawyers to the indigent and to develop mechanisms to make lawyers affordable to moderate income individuals. Lack of action will devastate the justice system. That will leave the rule of law in ruins, shattering the foundation of American democracy. Any other course will diminish the respect and moral standing the United States has enjoyed as a leader of democratic governments.
The 2014 amendment to the Compliance section, regarding retired bankruptcy judges and magistrate judges and exempting those judges from compliance with the Code as part-time judges if they notify the Administrative Office of the United States Courts that they will not consent to recall, was not intended to alter those judges’ statutory entitlements to annuities, cost-of-living adjustments, or any other retirement benefits.
Although it's a little cheesy, having an alter ego of sorts is a very helpful way to boost self-confidence. If we pretend like we're someone else--strong, willful, self-confident--we never have to subject ourselves to the fear of our personal worth not being enough for others. We should not necessarily lie about who we are, or invent false facts, but instead find another mode of existence in which we may tap into to be comfortable in our own skin.
With that said, some breaches of procedure by a pro se litigant are important, while others are not. To navigate these inevitable breaches to the benefit of a client, counsel must determine how the court generally views such breaches and take steps to ensure the court understands when the breaches are material (e.g., the breach prejudices a party unfairly). However, even potentially armed with such knowledge, the court may have a “tendency to stretch or ignore the procedural rules in the pro se litigant’s favor.” Id. at 50. While counsel can continually remind the court that the pro se litigant must be held to the same standard as an attorney, “some courts may still regard procedural breaches as relatively unimportant.” Id. Thus, it becomes imperative “to convince the court that the procedural breach is a serious matter.” Id. In other words, counsel must educate the court in both a succinct and compelling way—whether through an oral objection or appropriate written means—that the pro se litigant’s procedural failure is unduly prejudicial to counsel’s client, the court, the administration of justice generally, or some or all of these.
It sounds like you are on the right path and are doing things correctly. Since the defendant hasn’t complied with the rules and has failed to either admit, deny, or object to your requests, it seems clear that the judge will not have much other choice other than to issue an order deeming the matters as admitted under ORCP Rule 45. And congratulations for submitting requests for admissions, many pro se’s make the mistake of not submitting requests for admissions in their litigations. Requests for Admissions can be very crucial to a case and it is a mistake not to submit them to the opposing party. Hopefully the judge in your case will follow the governing rule and issue an order deeming the matters from your requests as admitted. That will certainly help you prove your case and as you said, will also potentially alleviate your having to drag some witnesses into court against their will to testify. Good for you for holding your own and overcoming the “overwhelming” factor and resisting folding your hand. And good for you for not allowing the defendant’s lawyer into bluffing you and trying to intimidate you into giving up. This is what unscrupulous lawyers try to do, and unfortunately, it works many times. It sounds like you are doing a great job holding your own. You are doing a great job on how you are handling the requests for admissions issues. Keep up the good work! I wish you the best!
(4) Notwithstanding the preceding provisions of this Canon, if a judge would be disqualified because of a financial interest in a party (other than an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome), disqualification is not required if the judge (or the judge’s spouse or minor child) divests the interest that provides the grounds for disqualification.
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.