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.
For the many millions of unrepresented litigants appearing in American courts each year, mastering the rules of the adversarial system is next to impossible.5 Such litigants often do not understand the rules of evidence, and so cannot understand what facts are relevant or how to present them to a judge. An attorney opposing an unrepresented litigant is more likely to withhold evidence favorable to the litigant who is unlikely to know that such evidence must be turned over or to ask for it.
Lawyers are necessary outside of traditional litigation, too. Many disputes today are resolved through settlements negotiated outside of court. Even when managed by a professional mediator, the inequality inherent in negotiations between an untrained lay person and a lawyer remains.9 Even when both parties represent themselves, one or the other often unintentionally negotiates away rights or entitlements that are theirs under the law, because they do not know what is due them.10
Language is my love, and though I am fascinated by all languages and cultures, I am, alas, fluent in only one. My Spanish is sporadic, my French frankly poor, my German generally forgotten, my Italian too long ignored, and my Polynesian languages painfully all but non-existent now. And so it is that this website is devoted to the prose of the only language that has endured in my memory over the years: English. I hope that you will join me in exploring and analyzing this diverse and ever-changing language and share with me your thoughts on its usage and development.

FERN A. FISHER is the Special Assistant for Social Justice Initiatives to the Dean at the Maurice A. Deanne School of Law at Hofstra University, and retired Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the New York City Courts and Director of the New York State Access to Justice Program. She is a founding member of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association and a member and past board member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the New York County Lawyers Association.

Washington Limited Practice Rule. With a goal of making legal help more accessible to the public, the Washington Supreme Court has adopted APR 28, entitled “Limited Practice Rule for Limited License Technicians”. The rule will allow non-lawyers with certain levels of training to provide technical help on simple legal matters effective September 1, 2012.
When pro se litigants feel they are being shut out from the process or that their voices are being stifled, these challenges—and the accompanying risks—are amplified. In fact, studies show that notions of fairness heavily influence and guide pro se litigants. Id. at 4. Indeed, “research has repeatedly established that when litigants perceive that a decision-making process is fair, they are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome.” Self-Represented Litigation Network, Handling Cases Involving Self-Represented Litigants: A National Bench Guide for Judges 2–4 (2008).
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It can be difficult to decide whether to represent yourself in a child custody or child support hearing. Take the time to give careful consideration to each of the factors mentioned above. Additionally, you should speak to a competent attorney with experience in child custody cases in your state. He or she can help you decide whether filing for custody pro se is a good decision, based on the facts of your case and your individual needs.


(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.
Make sure you follow those instructions! At that point, you will be given so many days to serve the defendant with the court summons. In some districts, the plaintiff has the choice of either delivering the summons himself, a friend deliver it, or having a federal Marshal deliver it. It is most effective to have either a federal Marshal deliver the summons, or a really big guy in a suit. Whoever delivers the summons must make a note of who the summons is delivered to, what the date is, and what time it was delivered. Record this information on the appropriate form that is sent to you with the summons, and take it back to the district court.

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).
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).
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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.


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).

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.
Some pro se litigants who are federal prisoners are subject to the Prison Litigation Reform Act. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asserted: ""For over thirteen years, the Prison Litigation Reform Act has denied access to the courts to countless prisoners who have become victims of abuse, creating a system of injustice that denies redress for prisoners alleging serious abuses, barriers that don't apply to anyone else. It is time for Congress to pass legislation to restore the courts as a needed check on prisoner abuse."[36][37] 54% of judges responding to a Federal Judicial Conference survey use videoconferences for prisoner pro se hearings.[16]:29
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