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.: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.:22 53% found that represented parties sometimes or frequently take advantage of pro se parties.:23 Only 5% reported problems of pro ses behaving inappropriately at hearings.:24 Respondents to the FJC study did not report any orders against non prisoner pro se litigation.
Limit the scope of trial. Pursuant to federal and state rules of evidence and procedure, courts are responsible for establishing ground rules to efficiently manage and regulate trial practice and trial testimony. This is especially important when trial involves a pro se party because the lack of substantive and procedural knowledge can create an ever-changing, and often ever-expanding, litigation framework. Accordingly, trial counsel should make use of pretrial briefing mechanisms—including motions in limine and bench memoranda—to limit the issues for trial. Pretrial briefing affords the pro se litigant the opportunity to have his or her voice heard on the issues while efficiently framing the matters for trial. If the rules of court do not impose page limits on the particular mode of briefing being used, trial counsel should ask the court to set a page limit to help focus the discussion. In addition, trial counsel should consider asking the court to allow the parties to submit in advance their questions for direct examination to both limit improper objections and further focus the testimony on relevant, admissible evidence.
Alternatively, as suggested by previous theorizing and research (Sherman and Cohen, 2006), we tested whether changes in overall state positive affect could explain increased helping behavior (Isen and Levin, 1972). We created a composite measure of state positive affect (five items: hopeful, secure, joyful, confident, and open; pre α = 0.77, post α = 0.84) before and after the affirmation writing manipulation. The self-affirmation group did not have greater increases in general positive affect [as assessed by a one-way ANOVA on the composite state positive affect change score: F(1,50) = 0.05, p = 0.83] compared to the control group, indicating that changes in state positive affect is not a viable mediator.
Like the self-transcendence account, our Study 1 outcome showing that self-affirmation increases pro-social behavior is consistent with the idea that self-affirmation fosters social connectedness (Crocker et al., 2008; Burson et al., 2012), but our Study 2 findings suggest that these compassionate feelings may be directed toward the self (and not toward a peer). However, further research is necessary to clarify this finding. In Study 1, feelings of compassion boost pro-social behavior, but in Study 2, other-directed feelings of compassion are not impacted by self-affirmation writing. A ceiling effect may explain this seeming difference; the confederate “other” storytelling video we used was rather high quality, and may not have solicited a need for compassion, thus explaining the lack of variability in participants’ responses across conditions. Or, it’s possible that watching a peer’s slightly embarrassing video might not elicit a compassionate vs. judgmental response comparable to feelings of self-compassion vs. self-judgment in response to the self video. Future work is needed to establish whether self-affirmation also increases compassionate feelings for others in need, perhaps using different methods to compare self- vs. other-directed compassionate responses.
Pro Se is a newsletter published bi-monthly by Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York for incarcerated individuals in New York State prisons. Pro Se provides information and analysis on recent developments in the law. Pro Se advises people in prison of changes in the law, provides practice pieces to assist them in complying with statutory and regulatory requirements, and explains technical aspects of various laws affecting prisoners. Pro Se is sent free of charge to individuals incarcerated in New York State who request to be placed on our mailing list.
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.
Canon 4B. The changing nature of some organizations and their exposure to litigation make it necessary for a judge regularly to reexamine the activities of each organization with which the judge is affiliated to determine if the judge’s continued association is appropriate. For example, in many jurisdictions, charitable hospitals are in court more often now than in the past.
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This can be a humbling and learning experience. Sometimes, despite our convictions or our research, there will be times we will miss or misinterpret the point and be wrong. Thinking law and litigation is a mixture of morality, common sense and fairness is a common source of this experience. Morality, common sense and fairness may be elements in the drafting of laws, but the implementation of law may not favor morality, common sense or fairness as these terms are generally defined.
Many pro se resources come from these sources: local courts, which may offer limited self-help assistance; public interest groups, such as the American Bar Association, which sponsors reform and promotes resources for self-help, and commercial services, which sell pre-made forms allowing self-represented parties to have formally correct documents. For example, the Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN) is an organization whose web site, srln.org, is dedicated to issues related to self-represented litigation and offers a curated resource library for legal professionals (courts, lawyers, and allies) engaged in pro se litigation. The organization provides no assistance with particular complaints. "Self-help" legal service providers must take care not to cross the line into giving advice, in order to avoid "unauthorized practice of law", which in the U.S. is the unlawful act of a non-lawyer practicing law.
Proof that the plaintiff has the right to sue you. In the case of a debt buyer, the debt buyer must prove that it owns your debt by showing the court the contract of sale. This contract is called an “assignment.” The assignment must mention your debt specifically. If your debt has been bought and sold multiple times, the debt buyer must present a chain of assignments that goes all the way back to your original creditor.
Courts across the country are increasing the resources available to the surge of pro se litigants attempting to navigate the judicial system. Courts are not only addressing the legal and procedural obstacles facing pro se litigants, but they are also focusing on “sociological [and] psychological aspects of how unrepresented litigants feel about the overall litigation experience.” Id. at 3. Likewise, attorneys, and civil trial lawyers in particular, must be cautious of the challenges and special considerations involving pro se litigants.
Conversely, pro se litigants who make mistakes lose day in and day out, even with minor infractions. This is most often due to lack of knowledge, but judicial bias and lawyer tricks add another layer of peril. Lawyers know how to avoid default judgments, dismissals, and summary judgments. Pro se litigants rarely do. Lawyers skillfully “handle” pro se opposition. Most pro se litigants don’t handle lawyers or their own cases. In the end, most lose and they do so very quickly.
Gary Zeidwig doesn’t think so, at least not all the time. Zeidwig, an award-winning lawyer, reveals that there are some cases where an individual can move forward pro se, (for oneself) that is, advocating without an attorney and defending or fighting for their rights on their own behalf, and that it’s not only acceptable but relatively safe to do so.
The inconsistent character embodies a contradiction that isn’t just a jumble but a tension that can resolve into something else. The confidence-man is trust and mistrust at once, a number of different people in one, an impossible ability to transform—and also the exact symbol of an emerging market society, the no-man and everyman you need to both trust and mistrust in order to exist under capitalism. But, in another intrusion, Melville asks:
Oftentimes, self-represented litigants become reactive when there’s a lawyer on the other side. Instead of getting ahead of things or running their own case, they let the lawyer take the lead. They spend so much time responding to discovery requests, summary judgment motions, motions to dismiss, and other filings that they don’t formulate a strategy of their own. They don’t do their own discovery or object to certain requests because they’re swamped and often intimidated. So, they’re always behind and in a constant reactive state. If a wise opponent sees how reactive you are, they can walk you right into an error. So, take control of your case. Never let a lawyer think that he’s in charge of it.
Refrain from feeling like everything you've ever achieved has been accomplished through sheer luck and no hard work. Things happen for a reason, and more often than not, we are the ones making things happen--even when we don't realize it. Our smallest actions have more power than we think, so don't fall into the trap of self-doubt. Know you deserve to be where you are, and own it.
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." 54% of judges responding to a Federal Judicial Conference survey use videoconferences for prisoner pro se hearings.:29