Pro Se Litigation: Hear It From A Judge

The increase in the number of pro se litigants has sparked recent innovations by clerks and judges. Just a decade or so ago, pro se litigants had few resources for assistance with their cases. Now, they have many more resources. They can, for instance, make use of court-sponsored self-help sites. The sites feature links to laws, legal forms, pleading builders, and other legal services.

In this vein, Judge Beverly W. Snukals shared her insights about pro se litigants in court and made suggestions for helping the system work better for them.

According to Snukals, “Pro se litigants are a relatively powerless interest group. The group’s lack of political influence results in little being done to remedy the difficulties posed by the rise in self-representation. Membership in the group is typically not by choice but because the individual litigant lacks the money to hire an attorney. The lack of resources significantly limits the group’s ability to garner similar attention from the General Assembly as well-funded groups do. But more importantly, pro se litigants lack group cohesion. Membership in the group ends with the final disposition of the litigant’s case. Without the funds or logistical capability to pool resources and act as an organized group to lobby the legislature, pro se litigants fail to receive sufficient funding and services in comparison with their need.”

Snukals’ suggestions include: (1) unbundling of legal services in which people pay only for services they need; (2) use of self-service centers, pro se litigation clinics, and Internet-based information systems; (3) amendments to laws for unauthorized practice of law to allow court staff to assist pro se litigants; and (4) judicial education that teaches judges how to best handle cases involving pro se litigants.

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Von Wells
July 21, 2023 1:26 am

I reside in Jacksonville, Florida, a city known for racism. In a recent probate case, an opposing attorney engaged in fraudulent behavior within the court system. Specifically, the attorney falsely claimed to have served the Letters of Administration to all beneficiaries involved in the case, despite evidence proving otherwise during a court hearing.

What transpired next was a cause for concern. The presiding judge, seemingly displeased with my status as a Pro Se Litigant appeared biased towards the opposing attorney who had been practicing law for 40 years. Consequently, the judge decided to favor the opposing side and awarded them the case.
During the proceedings, the witnesses to the Will was impeached. The notarized self-proving will, inherently disqualifies him from acting as a witness in accordance with Florida law (FS 117.05(1)). I appealed the decision but, the judge is attempting to get fees for the attorney and held a hearing.
The judge should be disqualified for her obvious misconduct. What should I do?

anna domino
Reply to  Von Wells
April 25, 2024 9:54 pm

I wonder how this worked out for you?