Melville’s last novel was met mostly with ignorance. Perhaps it was Melville’s form and style, summed by his own words, “There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.” Though more true of Moby Dick than The Confidence Man, I suspect readers still didn’t quite know what to make of a novel that, despite being orderly by comparison, was nearly three-quarters dialog; without a discerna ...more

Do I have a basic understanding of the required court documents? Mounds of documents can be very intimidating to a lot of people, legal officials included. Parents considering pro se representation should become familiar with various types of family law documents. Again, become friendly with the court clerk and ask for his or her help identifying the correct forms, where to get them, when they are due, and how they should be submitted. 

The justice system cannot function without the confidence of the public.26 Lack of confidence will eventually lead to distrust of the system and the rule of law. Trust in the rule of law is an essential part of democracy. Although the public trusts the judiciary more than the other branches of government, confidence in the U.S. civil justice system is low.27 In an adversarial system, unrepresented litigants threaten public confidence: when individuals perceive or receive unequal treatment, they lose respect and confidence in the institution that is supposed to deal fairly with them.
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.
Some experts, like John Pollock with the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, have focused on expanding the right to counsel in civil cases implicating basic human needs. Others have advocated for expansion of the right to counsel in lower-level criminal cases where the consequences – including obstacles to housing or employment, or deportation – can still be incredibly high.
Shauna Strickland. Virginia Self-Represented Litigant Study: Summary of SRL-Related Management Reports for General District Court, Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court, and Circuit Court. (December 2017). This report describes case management reports that OES should consider producing on a regular schedule in an effort to better understand cases with self-represented litigants.
Self-affirmation (vs. control) participants had a significantly greater increase in feelings of state compassion pre–post writing. Specifically, a one-way ANOVA (condition: self-affirmation or control) revealed a significant difference in state compassionate feelings [F(1,50) = 4.23, p = 0.05, η2 = 0.08]: self-affirmation participants had a greater pre-post-writing change in state compassion (M = 1.84, SD = 3.3) compared to control participants (M = -0.11, SD = 3.52). A 2 (condition: self-affirmation or control) × 2 (time: pre- and post-writing) repeated measures ANOVA [affirmation X time interaction F(1,50) = 4.23, p = 0.05, η2 = 0.08] yielded the same effect as the one-way ANOVA using the affect change score: self-affirmation increased state compassion pre-post-writing, compared to the control group.
He convinces the barber to sign a contract agreeing to remove the offending sign and promising to have confidence in people; the confidence-man in turn agrees “to make good to the last any loss that may come from his trusting mankind, in the way of his vocation, for the residue of the present trip.” And then, deal done, he walks out, asking the barber to have confidence that he’ll pay him back for the shave.
The cost of providing attorneys for everyone who needs but cannot afford one would be huge. Providing just one hour of legal services to each person unable to afford it would cost an estimated $20–$25 billion.12 Courts cannot possibly cover this cost: cutbacks in court budgets by state legislatures mean that many courts cannot even cover their basic operating expenses.13 Few courts have money in their budgets to provide lawyers for the indigent. With $100 million for civil lawyers, New York State recently had more money for this purpose than any other state. Though the funding was far from enough to close the justice gap, the state saw a significant decline in the number of unrepresented litigants in the courts.14
The judge in my case offered an angry and dismissive "Here we go!" when I argued that he must liberally construe the allegations in my complaint, as the 1972 Supreme Court precedent Haines v. Kerner dictates. He also disregarded the court's own local rules by denying my right to conduct my own voir dire of the prospective jurors, simply because I was proceeding pro se. He berated me in open court for my refusal to retain an attorney, and condescendingly informed me that he didn't think I would prevail at the trial. At various points, including when he urged me to accept the defendant's settlement offer, I felt he was trying to intimidate me simply because I chose to represent myself.
In 2011, the Federal Judicial Conference surveyed federal court clerks offices regarding pro se issues. They found that only 17 of 62 responding judges report that discovery is taken in most non prisoner pro se cases and only 13 reported that discovery is taken in most prisoner pro se cases.[16]:21 In the same survey, 37% of judges found that most pro ses had problems examining witnesses, while 30% found that pro ses had no or few problems examining witnesses.[16]:22 53% found that represented parties sometimes or frequently take advantage of pro se parties.[16]:23 Only 5% reported problems of pro ses behaving inappropriately at hearings.[16]:24 Respondents to the FJC study did not report any orders against non prisoner pro se litigation.[16]
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