Or at least R.I.P. for non-lawyer pro se litigants. Just when you thought the Supreme Court season had finally come to a close, the Court released a new rule book this morning. It’s 80 pages long and mostly a rehash, but the addition of Rule 28.8 garnered some attention for finally closing a door on the practice of non-lawyers arguing before the Court.
Why file a Pro Se complaint? As the chair of an advocacy group called the Disability Action Crew (DAC), I have lots of information to help others advocate for access. With every question I get asked about advocacy, it seems I often end up with more questions that go unanswered. It's like a coach trying to beat a team that makes all the rules as the game goes along. He's out there, he's trying to win, but every time he goes for the goal there's a different set of rules. Advocacy's like that‹we don't know the rule of winning access until we break them. And we look to authorities for the answers: the DOJ, the EEOC, the HRC, the DOT.
There are a number of restrictions courts impose on pro se litigation. They include instances in which individuals are unduly disruptive, clearly lacking in knowledge, or have engaged in improper or abusive practices. There is a growing tendency, although occasionally controversial, for courts to proscribe litigation by individuals who repeatedly engage in abusive tactics while litigating pro se. The practice of self-representation or pro se litigation can be either a boon or a bane to litigants.
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
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.

The required briefs, memoranda of law, motions, and pleadings are governed by rules that can be difficult for untrained individuals to comply with.6 Courts sometimes sanction unrepresented litigants who are ignorant of the law or become too emotional in the courtroom for not complying with court rules or for frivolous litigation.7 For these reasons and others, a litigant without an attorney is much more likely to fail than one who is represented.8
I’ve filed and served a request for admissions which the Defendant”s attorney failed to answer within the 30 day period allotted by rule here in Oregon. The rules also state that a failure to answer the request will result in admission of the answers requested. From what I can glean from the rules, I now need to file a “Motion To Determine Sufficiency”. If I fail to file such a motion, can I simply ask the court to declare, at the outset of trial, that the defendant, by failing to answer the admissions request, has in fact admitted certain facts which I no longer must prove at trial?
This is similar to the previous point. In a post, What Kind Of Pro Se Litigant Are You?, I discussed five types of pro se litigants. The least effective is one lacking in confidence. Many pro se litigants lose early by simply not showing up for court. Many more lose at the first hearing. With a lawyer on the opposite side and a robed judge on the bench, the average person is bound to feel as if they can’t succeed. Don’t let that feeling rule your actions. Lacking confidence, you might be tempted to ask advice of your opponent’s lawyer. He’s not your friend. Where a judge is concerned, ask for clarification about a ruling, not for advice about your case. In the face of uncertainty and fear, don’t give up. Keep going and learn. Simply getting to the next step, the next hearing, or the next motion is a victory. The longer you stay in, the more confident you’ll be.
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.
The Pro Se Education Program helps you learn about the divorce and parentage process. It will educate you about your responsibilities during the court process. It will help you understand court procedures and what forms you need to fill out. You will also learn about services available to help with problems affecting families. Anyone may attend, whether or not they are a party to a case. Classes are free.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.
Canon 2B. Testimony as a character witness injects the prestige of the judicial office into the proceeding in which the judge testifies and may be perceived as an official testimonial. A judge should discourage a party from requiring the judge to testify as a character witness except in unusual circumstances when the demands of justice require. This Canon does not create a privilege against testifying in response to an official summons.
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.
An individual’s right to represent himself or herself in federal court is expressly codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1654 (2018), which provides: “In all courts of the United States the parties may plead and conduct their own cases . . . therein.” Similarly, many states have codified the rights of pro se litigants in their respective constitutions and statutes. Drew A. Swank, “The Pro Se Phenomenon,” 19 BYU J. Pub. L. 373, 375 (2005). Indeed, according to the Supreme Court, there is “no evidence that the . . . Framers ever doubted the right of self-representation, or imagined that this right might be considered inferior to the right of assistance of counsel.” Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 832 (1975).
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.

In one study, researchers identified almost 200 discrete tasks that self-represented litigants must perform in civil cases – from finding the right court to interpreting the law, filing motions, compiling evidence and negotiating a settlement. Some of these tasks require specialized knowledge of the law and of the court system. Almost all require time away from work and caring for children. Many also require the ability to get to the courthouse, to read and to speak English or access a translator.
Resource Guide on Serving Self-Represented Litigants Remotely (SRLN 2016). (July 2016). Self-Represented Litigants Network The Resource Guide provides options for courts and other entities interested in providing services to self-represented litigants using means that are not face-to-face, instead of, or in addition to, in-person alternatives such as walk-in services, workshops, and clinics. 

It was predicted that self-affirmation increases pro-social behavior. This hypothesis was tested in two ways. First, it was predicted that affirmed participants would indicate a desire to give more of their income to charities on the spending survey. A significant positive relationship between family income and charitable giving was observed in this sample (r = 0.31, p = 0.02), so family income was used as a covariate in this analysis. A one-way (condition: self-affirmation, control) ANCOVA yielded a significant main effect on percentage of income allocated to charitable donations [F(1,50) = 5.90, p = 0.02, η2 = 0.11]. Specifically, affirmation participants indicated a greater desire for charitable giving (M = 6.58%, SD = 3.66) compared to control participants (M = 4.24%, SD = 3.41). Without controlling for family income, the effect of self-affirmation on charitable giving did not reach statistical significance [F(1,50) = 2.21, p = 0.14, η2 = 0.04]. Second, it was predicted that self-affirmed participants would exhibit greater helping behavior to the shelf-collapse incident. Indeed, a one-way ANOVA confirmed that self-affirmation participants helped more (M = 3.92, SD = 3.02) than control participants in response to the shelf-collapse incident (M = 2.33, SD = 2.2) [F(1,46) = 4.32, p = 0.04, η2 = 0.09].
This research was approved by the Carnegie Mellon University Institutional Review Board. Seventy-seven Carnegie Mellon students and community members (N = 77) were recruited (52% female; age: M = 21.0, SD = 2.2; 56% Caucasian, 23% Asian, 8% African American, 3% Mixed, 10% Other) in exchange for psychology class credit or $8. Participants were randomly assigned to the self-affirmation condition (N = 39) or control condition (N = 38), and to the self-video (N = 37) or other-video (N = 40) condition in a 2 × 2 between-subjects factorial design. A G*Power analysis indicates that at 80% power, 73 subjects are needed to detect a large overall effect with this 2 × 2 design and a continuous moderator variable (trait self-compassion).

Though there is a prejudice against inconsistent characters in books, yet the prejudice bears the other way, when what seemed at first their consistency, afterwards, by the skill of the writer, turns out to be their good keeping. The great masters excel in nothing so much as in this very particular. They challenge astonishment at the tangled web of some character, and then raise admiration still greater at their satisfactory unraveling of it.


According to Boston Bar Association Task Force 1998 report in every court studied by the task force, litigants without lawyers are present in surprising numbers. In some counties, over 75% of the cases in Probate and Family Courts have at least one party unrepresented. In the Northeast Housing Court, over 50% of the landlords and 92% of the tenants appear without lawyers in summary process cases.[40]
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