Legal notices aren’t simply appendages tagged on to a case just to annoy you. They may not be sexy, but they play a critical role in the smooth management of the litigation process. Sometimes there’s even a statutory requirement that a notice be filed before certain claims or defenses are asserted. In truth, if you ignore some notices, you could end up losing your whole case.
The vast majority of civil pro se litigants don’t write their own motions and pleadings. They use pre-printed forms instead. Forms are easy to understand and quick to complete. They speed up the judicial process. With forms, clerks spend less time explaining rules. Judges can review information at a glance. Pro se litigants can take shortcuts by using forms. Complete the required sections, and you’re done. Sometimes all you need to do is sign! While litigation documents are more difficult to produce than forms, they give you more control of your case strategy.
Discovery plays a major role in the litigation process. When done right, it can help you prove your case or disprove your opponent’s case. A motion to compel discovery is a major tool for getting evidence on the record. When you don’t want your information released, be prepared to hit back hard against this powerful discovery tool.
Appearing before a judge is one of the biggest challenges for pro se litigants. The judge has the power to kill your case or let it live another day. So, your nerves are taut. You’re not used to this kind of pressure. You’re not a lawyer! How do you get through a hearing? If you follow these tips, court hearings may not be a snap, but they won’t be a mess either.
In 2018, Courtroom5’s blog surpassed the 200th post mark. Throughout the year, we tackled a multitude of topics important to pro se litigants, including access to justice, judicial bias, motion writing, finding cases, and setting hearings. We’ve highlighted lawyer antics, discussed court costs, and helped you distinguish between different motions. Below, we highlight posts that you found useful and others that stood out for other reasons. They’re all posts you shouldn’t miss. So, enjoy reading–or re-reading–our best blog posts of 2018.
Earlier, we outlined a recipe for analyzing a case and creating a litigation strategy. The right litigation strategy can help a pro se litigant choose the next step in a case. In this second part, we use a simple slip and fall scenario to test the recipe. Thinking through your own scenario from beginning to end can be the start of a successful experience in court.
One of the major things that separate lawyers and other legal professionals from the average pro se litigant is legal writing. In fact, briefs, motions, memoranda, pleadings, and even notices are critical to success in litigation. In some cases, the bulk of communications with the judge is in writing. How you come across signals to the judge that you’re prepared for court and able to handle the legal issues involved in your case–or not. Check out the dos and don’ts of legal writing.
Three of five people in civil cases are there without a lawyer. Do they all want to be there alone? No, but most have no choice. There are though many good reasons to represent yourself in court. Below are our top 10.
You’ve struggled with proper wording and formatting of your motion, and you think you’ve done well. You go to the courthouse or online and file your motion. Unaware that there’s more to do, you simply stop there. You wait for an answer from your opponent or for the court to schedule a hearing. That’s not how things work in litigation. If your case is to move in the direction you desire, you must move it. That necessarily involves scheduling hearings on your motions.
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.