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.
Researching a business’s financial situation is a bit trickier than a person, but there are still things you can do. Drive past the business. If it is a retail establishment, restaurant, or store, are there people going in and out? Does it appear to be relatively successful? Does it own any equipment, vehicles, or merchandise? Does it have a legitimate website and social media presence? Read any reviews or articles you find relating to that business.
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.
Taking part in a recent ribbon cutting in Brooklyn are, from left, Lynn Kelly, executive director of the City Bar Justice Center; Debra L. Raskin, New York City Bar Association president; Chief Judge Carol B. Amon, Eastern District of New York; Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom; and Nancy Rosenbloom, director of the Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project.
Remember this phrase: Litigation Privilege. The phrase has a formal meaning, but in layman’s language it means that lawyers can do just about anything, especially to a self-represented litigant, to protect their clients. They can lie, steal, cheat–and kill if they could get away with it–to win. Lawyers don’t always need tricks to defeat pro se litigants, but they try them anyway. They can scare defendants into paying more than they owe or settling for far less than they deserve. They’ll use a request for admissions to make pro se litigants “admit” to undeserved liability by not answering. Some will even attempt to keep away your court reporter by lying to you or to your court reporting agency. So keep your eyes open when you’ve cornered a lawyer. Chances are, there’s a trick coming, and when it does, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Stay focused on your case. Reacting in anger by moving for sanctions, writing letters to the judge, reporting lawyer behavior in a hearing, or moving to disqualify a lawyer makes thinking and strategizing difficult. That’s not to say certain issues shouldn’t be addressed. If you must take an issue head-on, like moving for sanctions, do it strategically so you’ll get the most out of it. Otherwise, only address lawyer antics and judicial bias when it hurts your case, not when it hurts your feelings.
Study 2 provides a first indication that self-affirmation increases feelings of self-compassion using an established storytelling task-based measure. This result was specific to self-compassion; self-affirmation did not affect other-directed feelings of compassion toward a peer video. Moreover, the effect of self-affirmation on feelings of self-compassion was moderated by trait self-compassion, such that self-affirmation boosted feelings of self-compassion toward the storytelling video in those who were low in trait self-compassion. These findings help clarify the Study 1 findings where it was unclear whether the compassionate feelings encouraging helping behavior were directed at the self or directed out toward others. Here we find evidence that self-affirmation fosters compassionate feelings for the self but not toward a peer, which is consistent with the self-compassion account. However, the use of a single confederate video may not have been optimally matched to real participants’ self videos, perhaps differing on unmeasured variables despite our best efforts to film this peer video under matched conditions (the female research assistant in the video had no chance to practice or provide multiple takes, and was similarly embarrassed during the task as the study participants).
(C) Fund Raising. A judge may assist nonprofit law-related, civic, charitable, educational, religious, or social organizations in planning fund-raising activities and may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee. A judge may solicit funds for such an organization from judges over whom the judge does not exercise supervisory or appellate authority and from members of the judge’s family. Otherwise, a judge should not personally participate in fund-raising activities, solicit funds for any organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for that purpose. A judge should not personally participate in membership solicitation if the solicitation might reasonably be perceived as coercive or is essentially a fund-raising mechanism.
The duty under Canon 2 to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary applies to all the judge’s activities, including the discharge of the judge’s adjudicative and administrative responsibilities. The duty to be respectful includes the responsibility to avoid comment or behavior that could reasonably be interpreted as harassment, prejudice or bias.
The American Bar Association (ABA) has also been involved with issues related to self-representation. In 2008, the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access was presented to the Chicago-Kent College of Law Center for Access to Justice & Technology for making justice more accessible to the public through the use of the Internet in teaching, legal practice and public access to the law. Their A2J Author Project is a software tool that empowers those from the courts, legal services programs and educational institutions to create guided interviews resulting in document assembly, electronic filing and data collection. Viewers using A2J to go through a guided interview are led down a virtual pathway to the courthouse. As they answer simple questions about their legal issue, the technology then "translates" the answers to create, or assemble, the documents that are needed for filing with the court.
The plaintiff has to present quite a lot of evidence in order to meet its burden of proof. This evidence is often difficult or expensive for the plaintiff to produce. If your debt is old, or if it has been bought and sold multiple times, evidence of your debt may not exist at all. It is almost always much easier and cheaper for the plaintiff to negotiate a settlement with you than to come up with all the evidence needed to meet the burden of proof. That is why the plaintiff will nearly always want you to agree to a settlement.
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
Expert witnesses: If your case requires an expert witness, that could cost hundreds of dollars per hour. You will need to pay the expert for her time reviewing any materials, writing a report, and preparing for and testifying at depositions and trial. Some experts also require payment for travel costs, parking, mileage, and hotel accommodations, if necessary.
We will start with pro se. That's a Latin term meaning on one's own behalf and in a court setting it refers to persons who present their own cases without lawyers or other representatives. Now some people choose to act pro se because they have legal experience or they're otherwise very confident about their ability to convey their claim or their defence without any assistance. Other people may simply wish to avoid paying attorney's fees and the often exorbitant expenses associated with hiring a lawyer.
Our research makes clear that the large number of unrepresented citizens overwhelming the nation’s courts has negative consequences not only for them but also for the effectiveness and efficiency of courts striving to serve these and other segments of the community who need their disputes resolved. More staff time is required to assist unrepresented parties. In the absence of a fair presentation of relevant facts, court procedures are slowed, backlogs of other court cases occur, and judges confront the challenge of maintaining their impartiality while preventing injustice.20
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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.
All of these challenges are made worse by the disparity in education between lawyers and many low-income individuals, who generally read at lower reading levels and are more comfortable with oral communication, in particular by relating stories. The American justice system depends on written rules and on written orders and decisions, written at a reading level much higher than that of the average low-income litigant. Without a lawyer (or other kind of legal problem-solver) to explain the rules, navigate the legal process, and translate orders and decisions into accessible terms, a low-income litigant is likely to be lost in the system and to lose his case.11
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.
Good prep for litigation is hard work, like reading cases and statutes and writing concise, precise and persuasive motions and pleadings. Even then, the “tactics in the courtroom” you mention can still go on. So, mentality can be just as important as hard tangible work. Understand that lawyers want to win too, and they’ll do whatever they think it takes to do so. Cutting the ethical edge is just a day at work for some of them. Your job is to not get up in your feelings about any of that stuff. I know that’s difficult to do, and I struggle with it all the time, but it does not help you win. Do the work, understand your arguments and stay on point.
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.