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.


Ted Bundy, a man convicted of murdering 3 women, and suspected of murdering 30 more, chose to represent himself on and off during two separate murder trials in Florida. Bundy appeared pro se at several hearings at the beginning of his 1979 murder trial, which was the first nationally televised trial in U.S. history. Many people believed Bundy’s insistence on taking the reins of his defense as a pro se litigant on many occasions to be hubris, as he believed he was more intelligent than investigators, prosecutors, and even defense attorneys on the case.

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
The 2014 amendment to the Compliance section, regarding retired bankruptcy judges and magistrate judges and exempting those judges from compliance with the Code as part-time judges if they notify the Administrative Office of the United States Courts that they will not consent to recall, was not intended to alter those judges’ statutory entitlements to annuities, cost-of-living adjustments, or any other retirement benefits.
The United States judicial system is designed to be adversarial, to resolve disputes of fact and law before a neutral judge.1 The premise of the system is that each party in a court case is capable of understanding and using the law, since each must present the law and the facts to the judge. An effective adversarial system requires the presence of legally trained experts, typically lawyers, on both sides of a case.
You should not ignore a debt collection lawsuit because you cannot find a lawyer.  Hundreds of low income New Yorkers defend themselves in debt collection cases every single day, and many do so successfully.  Luckily, a debt collection case is relatively simple and straightforward as compared to other kinds of legal problems.  Debt collection attorneys often rely on the fact that unrepresented defendants do not know their rights.  Fight back by educating yourself about your case!   Read the information in these pages to familiarize yourself with the court process and the issues you will face as a pro se defendant (“pro se” means “without a lawyer”).  If possible, consult with the NYC Financial Justice Hotline or another attorney to obtain individualized advice about potential defenses you may have.  In our experience, a little information goes an incredibly long way.
After conducting an empirical study of pro se felony defendants, I conclude that these defendants are not necessarily either ill-served by the decision to represent themselves or mentally ill. ... In state court, pro se defendants charged with felonies fared as well as, and arguably significantly better than, their represented counterparts ... of the 234 pro se defendants for whom an outcome was provided, just under 50 percent of them were convicted on any charge. ... for represented state court defendants, by contrast, a total of 75 percent were convicted of some charge. ... Only 26 percent of the pro se defendants ended up with felony convictions, while 63 percent of their represented counterparts were convicted of felonies ... in federal court ... the acquittal rate for pro se defendants is virtually identical to the acquittal rate for represented defendants.[35]

When Peggy Orenstein's now-classic examination of young girls and self-esteem was first published, it set off a groundswell that continues to this day. Inspired by an American Association of University Women survey that showed a steep decline in confidence as girls reach adolescence, Orenstein set out to explore the obstacles girls face--in school, in the hoime, and in our culture.
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.
Once convicted, a prisoner no longer has the right to a public defender. Motions for post conviction relief are considered civil motions. Brandon Moon is an example of an unsuccessful pro se litigant who became successful when his case was taken by a lawyer. Moon's case was taken by the Innocence Project, and he was released after 17 years in jail for a rape that he did not commit.[50]

Some pro se litigants are intelligent and sophisticated. I recall one individual who represented himself in a case that proceeded to jury trial. He proved quite capable, and the verdict was in his favor. In other cases, the pro se parties are long on emotion and short on knowledge regarding law and procedure. This puts the judge in an uncomfortable position.
To test the hypothesis that self-affirmation increases pro-social behavior, participants provided two measures of helping behavior (see Measures). First, participants completed an indirect survey measure of hypothetical charitable giving. Second, participants’ helping behavior was measured in response to a surprise shelf-collapse incident that occurred while they completed some final questionnaires. The experimenter waited 1 min after the completion of these questionnaires before re-entering the room to pick up the fallen shelf items if participants had not already done so. Participants were then probed for suspicion (none were suspicious about the shelf-collapse incident), debriefed, and dismissed.
Pitting pro se litigants against lawyers as if lawyers are enemies does far more disservice to your clients. I looked at your website, and I see that you toe a fine line between practicing without a license and simply giving pro se litigants enough rope to hang themselves. I understand that it’s a gimmick to make money for yourselves, but the nobler thing to do would be to direct these people to pro bono services instead of guiding them to shooting themselves in the foot by acting like the opposing party’s lawyer is out to get them and that what they don’t understand about the practice of law is somehow a trick or deception.
Not surprisingly, this disparity in legal knowledge and skill on the part of pro se litigants produces a host of unique problems for the courts and the bar in general and, in particular, for trial counsel. Nevertheless, despite the many challenges they bring to the table, pro se litigants are here to stay, and their numbers are steadily growing. According to the National Center for State Courts, the number of pro se litigants in civil cases continues to rise, and there is every reason to believe this trend will continue. https://www.ncsc.org/. In fact, the number of annual non-prisoner pro se filings each year in federal courts alone tops about 25,000 and constitutes a significant section of the federal caseload. Jefri Wood, Pro Se Case Management for Nonprisoner Civil Litigation (Fed. Judicial Ctr. Sept. 28, 2016).

While the Due Process Clause does not require the provision of counsel in a civil contempt case for failure to pay child support when the opposing parent is not represented by counsel, the court should provide "alternative procedural safeguards," such as "adequate notice of the importance of ability to pay, fair opportunity to present, and to dispute, relevant information, and court findings."
Here the chapter ends, and another begins, one called “A metamorphosis more surprising than any in Ovid.” Charlie recoils and gets up to leave, calling the man who only moments before he had chosen to think of as a dear friend an “imposter.” In a mock ritual the cosmopolitan tries to summon his friend back, playing it off as a prank, but it’s clear no money is forthcoming. The scene’s irony is that while the narrator emphasizes the transformation wreaked by the mention of money on Charlie, it is the confidence-man who really embodies the metamorphoses of money, changing from valuable friend to worthless beggar in the course of a few sentences.
(4) Notwithstanding the preceding provisions of this Canon, if a judge would be disqualified because of a financial interest in a party (other than an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome), disqualification is not required if the judge (or the judge’s spouse or minor child) divests the interest that provides the grounds for disqualification.
As suggested by previous research (Crocker et al., 2008), we tested whether changes in single item measures of “loving” and “connected” collected before and after the self-affirmation writing (Figure ​Figure11) could explain how self-affirmation increased helping behavior to the self-collapse incident. Our findings did not support a loving feelings or a feelings of connection mechanism for pro-social behavior; there were no significant self-affirmation condition differences on change in the single items “loving” [one-way ANOVA: F(1,50) = 1.72, p = 0.20] or “connected” [one-way ANOVA: F(1,50) = 0.34, p = 0.56], or the combination of “loving” and “connected” [one-way ANOVA: F(1,50) = 1.28, p = 0.26; pre-writing α = 0.74 and post-writing α = 0.75]. Specifically, there were no differences in post-pre-writing change in feeling “loving” between the self-affirmation (M = -0.08, SD = 0.81) and control (M = 0.22, SD = 0.85) groups, or feeling “connected” (self-affirmation: M = -0.04, SD = 0.89; control: M = 0.11, SD = 0.97; Figure ​Figure11).
From the prison library, Gideon appealed to the United States Supreme Court, stating that, because he was denied counsel, his Sixth Amendment rights had been violated. In its 1963 ruling, the Supreme Court held that representation by counsel, even by defendants who cannot afford to hire an attorney, is a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. The opinion further stated that, because the Sixth Amendment does not distinguish between capital and non-capital offenses, the services of an attorney must be provided for an impoverished defendant in all criminal cases.

The district chose not to renew Vukadinovich's contract soon after, and he blamed it on age discrimination and retaliation by the former Hammond principal. He also claimed Hanover violated his right to due process. Hanover Superintendent Tom Taylor, who was not in that position at the time of Vukadinovich's firing, could not be reached for comment.
But this passage reminds us of the continuing tradition of morning dress for the Solicitor General’s office before the Supreme Court. If it already looked stupid in 1948, it definitely looks stupid now. Adhering to tradition for the mere sake of tradition is small-minded. After Elena Kagan dumped the practice — since wearing what is essentially a tuxedo is less than flattering for a woman — there was some reason to believe it would join powdered wigs in the dustbin of American legal history. No such luck.

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.
To test the hypothesis that self-affirmation increases pro-social behavior, participants provided two measures of helping behavior (see Measures). First, participants completed an indirect survey measure of hypothetical charitable giving. Second, participants’ helping behavior was measured in response to a surprise shelf-collapse incident that occurred while they completed some final questionnaires. The experimenter waited 1 min after the completion of these questionnaires before re-entering the room to pick up the fallen shelf items if participants had not already done so. Participants were then probed for suspicion (none were suspicious about the shelf-collapse incident), debriefed, and dismissed.
So, you have to decide what your goal is: (1) To post your complaint on the web in all its vitriolic splendor and go down in a blaze of glory or (2) to win your case. If its the former, go for it! If its the latter, get some help to draft a complaint in law talk, keep it simple, and go for the bucks you need to survive. You can do that, and still keep the street war going in a forum other than the courtroom. That's the win-win approach.
24Beverly W. Snukals and Glen H. Sturtevant Jr., “Pro Se Litigation: Best Practices from a Judge’s Perspective,” University of Richmond Law Review 42 (2) (2007) [LINK]; United States District Court, District of Minnesota, and the Federal Bar Association, Minnesota Chapter, The Pro Se Project (Minneapolis: United States District Court, District of Minnesota, and Federal Bar Association, Minnesota Chapter, 2011), 2 [LINK]; and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The Trial Court, Probate and Family Court Department, Pro Se Litigants: The Challenge of the Future (Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1997), 16 [LINK].
Canon 3A(4). The restriction on ex parte communications concerning a proceeding includes communications from lawyers, law teachers, and others who are not participants in the proceeding. A judge may consult with other judges or with court personnel whose function is to aid the judge in carrying out adjudicative responsibilities. A judge should make reasonable efforts to ensure that law clerks and other court personnel comply with this provision.
The novel begins on April Fool’s Day, with the boarding of a steamer by a man who is, “in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.” Over the course of the day, a number of apparitions wink into and out of existence on the same boat peddling several schemes. They might all be the same man, in what Melville calls “his masquerade.” They refer to each other, and each picks up where the last one left off. They talk up stock in something called the Black River Coal Company and ask for donations to the Seminole Widow and Orphan Asylum. Shares in a New Jerusalem founded by “fugitive Mormons” are offered. One, an herb-doctor, sells natural cures with names like the Omni-Balsamic Reinvigorator and the Samaritan Pain Dissuader. Another has a proposal for a World's Charity, funded by a small tax on every member of the human race. He proposes to bring the “Wall Street spirit” to charity, offering contracts for the conversion of the heathens to end the “lethargy of monopoly” which plagues the current missionary system. In his breathless enthusiasm for the power of the market this one could fit right in on the New York Times op-ed page, but all of these charlatans are recognizable American types.
The BIGGEST mistake pro se litigants make is thinking they know more than they do, as a way of overcompensating for lack of confidence. False bravado can lead you into mistakes #2, #3, and #4 on this list and a whole lot more. You don’t bring a court reporter because you don’t feel you need one. You don’t do research because you don’t have time, and you think you know enough. You react to or challenge every lawyer trick because you believe, without any evidence, that it’s the best thing to do. You talk about admiralty law, not because you know anything about it or where it fits into your case, but because you heard someone talk about it. You file the wrong motions in the wrong situations. It’s important to know what you don’t know and act accordingly. Instead of talking about sovereign citizenship, talk about and use civil procedure. Rather than reacting to lawyer antics, judicial bias or a sense of unfairness, focus on your case. Learn it backwards and forwards, and then bring your court reporter. That’s how you win. See Sovereign Citizens Make Pro Se Litigants Look Silly for more about the “problem” with sovereign citizens.
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:
Now most pro se litigants are at a disadvantage in contested litigation. It may be awkward or inappropriate for them to appear both as counsel and as a witness. They're deprived of the judgment of an independent third party in framing the case, in evaluating how to present the evidence and in forming legal arguments and also in making sure that it is reason rather than emotion that steers how the case is conducted. That's why Judges sometimes warn a party who is proceeding pro se of the old saying that anyone who represents himself in court has a fool for a client and an ass for an attorney.
Here we test a novel self-compassion account that links these two theoretical self-affirmation perspectives. Specifically, we posit that self-affirmation activities increase feelings of self-compassion, characterized by increased self-directed feelings of sympathy and love, and reductions in feelings of vulnerability and criticism (cf. Neff, 2003a; Leary et al., 2007). Our self-compassion account is consistent with the existing theoretical frameworks for self-affirmation: increasing self-compassion is one form of boosting one’s self-image (i.e., the self-resources perspective), and is associated with increased feelings of love and connection (i.e., the self-transcendence perspective; cf. Neff, 2003a). But this self-compassion perspective provides new specificity to these previous theoretical accounts by positing that the self-affirmation self-image boost is about feeling more compassion toward the self (and is not a general self-esteem boost as suggested by the self-resources perspective; Neff and Vonk, 2009), and that compassionate feelings engendered by self-affirmation are not other-directed (as suggested by the self-transcendence perspective), but directed toward the self. It is difficult, however, to disentangle whether these feelings stimulated through values affirmation are directed toward the self or toward others, and furthermore, it’s possible that compassionate feelings toward the self may generate compassion for others. Indeed, one important aspect of a self-compassionate attitude is the recognition of oneself as part of the human condition (Neff, 2003a); this sense of shared humanity may be encouraged by writing about important values, consistent with the self-transcendence perspective, but we suggest that the source of these feelings is a boost in self-compassion.
In New Hampshire one party is pro se in 85% of all civil cases in the district court and 48% of all civil cases in the superior court in 2004.[40] In probate court, both sides are unrepresented by lawyers in 38% of cases. In superior court domestic relations cases, almost 70% of cases have one pro se party, while in district court domestic violence cases, 97% of the cases have one pro se party.[1]
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