Some might say hefty court fees and high judicial salaries are necessary to the smooth running of the courts. That explanation might be supportable if pro se litigants actually got the justice they pay for. Too often, once a pro se litigant plops down their filing and other court fees, high paid judges, particularly in the federal system, don’t give their cases the time they need. So, pro se litigants have to think hard about whether to pursue or appeal their cases.
The right to a jury trial is part of the U.S. Constitution. So why don’t most cases reach a jury? Sure, many cases are settled, and some are frivolous, not worthy of being considered. But there are enough meritorious claims to keep our courthouses busy. Or maybe not, according to the nation’s judges. They are dismissing cases left and right. You won’t believe how few cases reach a jury.
LeFloris Lyon is a friend of mine and a very experienced pro se litigant. He has a case pending at the US Supreme Court, an appeal of some of the most egregious rulings I’ve ever seen. Among other errors, the judge in his case effectively barred him from even speaking with a lawyer without his opponent’s permission. The treatment of pro se litigants doesn’t get much worse than this.
Discovery can be a mind-boggling lineup of requests for admissions, requests for production of documents, requests for interrogatories, depositions, motions to compel, protective orders, and notices. Despite all that, your strategy for discovery is to get as much out of your opponent as you can while holding back as much as the law will allow.
The Motion to Dismiss and the Motion for Summary Judgment both present a chance to end your case, but similarities between the two are few. Arguing one when you should be arguing the other could hand you a loss in court. So know your motion and understand the differences between it and a similar motion.
Here’s yet another story of a judge disrespecting pro se litigants, this time by refusing to allow a criminal defendant to represent himself. This judge’s ignorance of the Sixth Amendment may put a dangerous criminal back on the street. We deserve better from our judiciary.
Judicial bias — shown in things like failing to read pro se filings, barring pro se litigants from conducting voir dire, and other antics — leaves much room for reform in federal and state courts. At least that’s the opinion of two experienced pro se litigants who left extensive comments on our recent ‘civil Gideon’ post.
On the heels of a major victory in federal court, Brian Vukadinovich has learned enough to write a manual for the pro se plaintiff. This short but comprehensive manual is filled with helpful tips on the entire process of bringing a lawsuit to trial, and winning it. Is it difficult to represent yourself in court? Yes. Is it doable with the right preparation? Absolutely!