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.
United States federal courts created the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system to obtain case and docket information from the United States district courts, United States courts of appeals, and United States bankruptcy courts.[68] The system, managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, allows lawyers and self-represented clients to obtain documents entered in the case much faster than regular mail.[68] However, the system charges fees, which were the subject of a class action lawsuit ongoing as of 2019.[69] Several federal courts published general guidelines for pro se litigants and Civil Rights complaint forms.[70][71][72][73]

Reflecting on an important personal value in a self-affirmation activity has been shown to improve psychological functioning in a broad range of studies, but the underlying mechanisms for these self-affirmation effects are unknown. Here we provide an initial test of a novel self-compassion account of self-affirmation in two experimental studies. Study 1 shows that an experimental manipulation of self-affirmation (3-min of writing about an important personal value vs. writing about an unimportant value) increases feelings of self-compassion, and these feelings in turn mobilize more pro-social behaviors to a laboratory shelf-collapse incident. Study 2 tests and extends these effects by evaluating whether self-affirmation increases feelings of compassion toward the self (consistent with the self-compassion account) or increases feelings of compassion toward others (an alternative other-directed compassion account), using a validated storytelling behavioral task. Consistent with a self-compassion account, Study 2 demonstrates the predicted self-affirmation by video condition interaction, indicating that self-affirmation participants had greater feelings of self-compassion in response to watching their own storytelling performance (self-compassion) compared to watching a peer’s storytelling performance (other-directed compassion). Further, pre-existing levels of trait self-compassion moderated this effect, such that self-affirmation increased self-compassionate responses the most in participants low in trait self-compassion. This work suggests that self-compassion may be a promising mechanism for self-affirmation effects, and that self-compassionate feelings can mobilize pro-social behaviors.

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.
For the many millions of unrepresented litigants appearing in American courts each year, mastering the rules of the adversarial system is next to impossible.5 Such litigants often do not understand the rules of evidence, and so cannot understand what facts are relevant or how to present them to a judge. An attorney opposing an unrepresented litigant is more likely to withhold evidence favorable to the litigant who is unlikely to know that such evidence must be turned over or to ask for it.

My question is: Can I serve my soon to be ex-wife a Discovery request even though I’m pro se and representing myself? I was served with a request from her attorney after our hearing for temporary alimony and child support and I want to counter act with a request as well. Her attorney is taking full advantage of my pro se circumstances and incompetent knowledge of divorce law as she should. I don’t want this to be an easy win for her when I have evidence that can work in my favor. I just need to find the best way to get it in front of the judge without being bullied in the court room. I don’t know my rights as a pro se litigant and I need as much advice as possible. I picked up her financial affidavit from the clerks office and she’s leaving out a lot of income that needs to be uncovered in my case. The issue is being overwhelmed by all of her attorney deadlines and demands which sidetracks my course of action to respond in my defense appropriately.
It's an uphill climb! Particularly, when your adversary has a thorough understanding of the rules of evidence, and procedure. You may get some latitude from the court as a pro se, but you may not, as it is up to the judge. Either way, the better question is why don't you have a lawyer on your side? Is it because some lawyers have not seen enough strength in the facts and law in your case? If that's the case, then you have an even steeper climb as you have a difficult case to prove, let alone that it's against a seasoned "high profile" lawyer. If you haven't consulted with an attorney, please do so before you do anything further as a pro se, and perhaps jeopardize your claim irreparably.
When going through divorce, it is not required for either party to be represented by an attorney, and in fact, many choose to save money by representing themselves in a pro se divorce. The necessary forms for divorce are available at the local family court, and many jurisdictions offer family law family law facilitators to provide information on the process of divorce to pro se litigants. In a divorce in which both parties can agree on the issues of division of marital property, and child custody and support, a pro se divorce may be the best choice for all. On the other hand, when there is serious conflict over these issues, the divorce may become quite complicated, and hiring an attorney may be the better choice.
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:
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).
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.
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.

Public Counsel's Federal Pro Se Clinic can provide free legal assistance to people representing themselves in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  The Clinic does not assist with criminal, bankruptcy, habeas, appeals, or any state cases.  The Clinic does not provide representation in court and cannot find an attorney to represent you.
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.
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.
Find out what your jurisdiction does. If they don’t have them, it’s worth it to bring your own. If a hearing means anything to you, the money you shell out for a court reporter will pay back in spades. If it’s difficult to pay for a court reporter, try to stretch those hearings out as long as you can. If you’re in a multi-year case, you might have a hearing only 3 times per year anyway. If you find you’re having more and can’t afford it, prioritize them. This also helps you think strategically about your case.
But in the course of my experience, it became very apparent that the deck was stacked against me just because I was proceeding pro se – that is, representing myself, without an attorney. It's hard enough for a layman to win in court as it is, but the apparent disdain and discrimination that courts and judges show toward pro se litigants make it that much harder.
Also, I don’t know what this obligation is to give access to justice that is apparently on the shoulders of individual lawyers. I only know of the 6th Amendment right to an attorney for defendants in a criminal trial, in which case any lawyer could be appointed to represent a defendant; I know of no other obligation to make legal services available to everyone on demand. But you can’t seriously tell me that you don’t pit pro se litigants against lawyers and publish the articles you do. I know some lawyers who are pretty burnt out dealing with pro se nonsense, and I know some who are more generous to those who play lawyer for themselves, but when your opposing counsel is a pro se litigant who can’t distinguish you from your client, or doesn’t understand why you’re representing your client vigorously and then goes on the defense, you wish you could just tell them what is obvious to you: it’s not about them. For example, I might be hesitant to encourage Tanya here to represent herself since she doesn’t seem to understand the difference between pro bono and contingency and statutes and case law, and that she hasn’t actually found any case law yet before deciding to pursue her lawsuit on her own and presenting what may be a matter of first impression, but that’s not my business…
Self-Representation.—The Court has held that the Sixth Amendment, in addition to guaranteeing the right to retained or appointed counsel, also guarantees a defendant the right to represent himself. this a right the defendant must adopt knowingly and intelligently; under some circumstances the trial judge may deny the authority to exercise it, as when the defendant simply lacks the competence to make a knowing or intelligent waiver of counsel or when his self-representation is so disruptive of orderly procedures that the judge may curtail it. the essential elements of self-representation were spelled out in McKaskle v. Wiggins…
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.
Handling Cases Involving Self-Represented Litigants: A Benchguide for Judicial Officers. (January 2007). Center for Families, Children, and the Courts. California Administrative Office of the Courts This comprehensive bench guide, the first of its kind, was designed to help judicial officers handle the increase in cases involving self-represented litigants. Twelve chapters of helpful suggestions are provided, along with sample scripts and checklists.

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.
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment. No portion of this course may be published, duplicated, shared, or used by anyone other than the currently registered subscriber.
We hypothesized that self-affirmation would increase feelings related to self-compassion, and that these feelings would mediate the effects of self-affirmation on increased pro-social behavior to a laboratory shelf-collapse incident (Study 1). In Study 2, we tested the specificity of self-affirmation on compassion, predicting that self-affirmation would increase feelings of self-compassion but not other-directed compassion in evaluating a mildly embarrassing video (their own “self” video vs. a peer “other” video). As previous studies indicate that self-affirmation may be particularly effective at buffering threats to participants who are the most resource deficient (e.g., among ego-depleted participants: Schmeichel and Vohs, 2009; participants with high levels of anti-social behavior: Thomaes et al., 2012), we hypothesized a moderating role of trait self-compassion in Study 2, such that self-affirmation would be more likely to increase self-compassionate feelings (to watching the “self” video) among participants who had pre-existing low levels of trait self-compassion.

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.
If the novelist is part of this same trade, a con man in his own right, he deserves that same mix of trust and mistrust. He’s out on the road making deals, looking for specimens to exhibit. There he goes, transforming experience into remarkable distilled concoctions of truth. Look at this amazing, original character, calls the novelist, see the skill with which something of human character is revealed. Step right up, enjoy the show. The novelist is in this same spot between the general and the particular, offering a meaningful, personal connection through a product of which, if the vagaries of the publishing industry are favorable, vast numbers of copies are made. In The Confidence-Man, Melville’s showing off his showmanship, letting you know he’s bluffing. And that’s the only way you know to trust him.
A manipulation check confirmed that participants in the experimental condition identified with their chosen value and found meaning through the writing exercise as compared to the control group. Affirmed participants strongly agreed that the value they wrote about was important to their self-identity (M = 5.67; SD = 0.39), while control participants disagreed (M = 3.40, SD = 0.93) [F(1,73) = 196.32, p < 0.0005], indicating that affirmed participants found personal value in their topic.

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.


I truly do appreciate the work you do and the information you provide as this is a great service to "all" citizens. Certainly more "legal information" is needed to increase "legal literacy" in the world today. I am amazed that you are able to respond so quickly given your "one man" operation. The "legacy" you are leaving by promoting "legal education" is important to this generation as well as future generations and I commend you for your efforts to impart of your knowledge. ... Leonard S.
The Code is designed to provide guidance to judges and nominees for judicial office. It may also provide standards of conduct for application in proceedings under the Judicial Councils Reform and Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980 (28 U.S.C. §§ 332(d)(1), 351-364). Not every violation of the Code should lead to disciplinary action. Whether disciplinary action is appropriate, and the degree of discipline, should be determined through a reasonable application of the text and should depend on such factors as the seriousness of the improper activity, the intent of the judge, whether there is a pattern of improper activity, and the effect of the improper activity on others or on the judicial system. Many of the restrictions in the Code are necessarily cast in general terms, and judges may reasonably differ in their interpretation. Furthermore, the Code is not designed or intended as a basis for civil liability or criminal prosecution. Finally, the Code is not intended to be used for tactical advantage.
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.
Appropriate action may include direct communication with the judge or lawyer, other direct action if available, reporting the conduct to the appropriate authorities, or, when the judge believes that a judge’s or lawyer’s conduct is caused by drugs, alcohol, or a medical condition, making a confidential referral to an assistance program. Appropriate action may also include responding to a subpoena to testify or otherwise cooperating with or participating in judicial or lawyer disciplinary proceedings; a judge should be candid and honest with disciplinary authorities.
We tested two predictions in Study 2: (1) whether self-affirmation increased feelings of self-compassion but not compassionate feelings toward others, and (2) whether trait self-compassion moderates the self-affirmation self-compassion effect, such that self-affirmation would be more likely to increase self-compassionate feelings among participants who had pre-existing low levels of trait self-compassion. To test these predictions, we conducted a multiple regression analysis that modeled the self-affirmation × video condition interaction, and the 3-way trait self-compassion × self-affirmation × video condition interaction. Specifically, this multiple regression analysis included the trait self-compassion continuous predictor variable, self-affirmation condition (self-affirmation = 1 or control = 0), and video condition (self = 1 or other video = 0) as predictor variables, along with their two-way interactions, and one 3-way interaction term. Table ​Table11 provides the results of this multiple regression analysis for compassionate feelings to the storytelling video, and Figure ​Figure33 visually depicts the results. Notably, this regression analysis revealed a significant main effect of video condition, such that those who watched their own video had lower feelings of compassion than those who watched the confederate’s video [β = -2.31, t(69) = -3.96, p < 0.005]. Moreover, we observed a significant trait self-compassion × video condition interaction, showing that participants lower in trait self-compassion rated their own video less favorably relative to participants higher in trait self-compassion (whereas trait self-compassion did not impact ratings of a peer’s video). This result conceptually replicates previous research showing that trait self-compassion moderates behavioral self-compassion to a storytelling video (Leary et al., 2007).
Our present findings suggest that self-affirmation may increase feelings of self-compassion, and that self-compassion may be a promising new mechanism for a potentially broad range of self-affirmation effects. More research is needed, but the present research provides an initial suggestion that affirming an important personal value increases feelings of self-compassion for mobilizing a pro-social self.
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."[36][37] 54% of judges responding to a Federal Judicial Conference survey use videoconferences for prisoner pro se hearings.[16]:29
×