The ongoing deterioration of the legal system in the US and its negative effects on citizens seeking to defend themselves in court extends to the highest reaches of the judiciary. While it’s true that the poor state of the judiciary is not news (take the Bush v. Gore debacle as one glaring example), the Supreme Court recently went out on a limb again. A humorous article on the US Supreme Court’s not-so-funny decision to effectively bar pro se litigants from arguing before it shows the measures the Court will take to give pro se litigants the Al Gore treatment.
Supreme Court Revised Rule 28.8 states: “Oral arguments may be presented only by members of the Bar of this Court. Attorneys who are not members of the Bar of this Court may make a motion to argue pro hac vice under the provisions of Rule 6.”
The actions of the Supreme Court unfortunately mirror those of other U.S. courts. Bias is strong against pro se litigants, many of whom lack knowledge of laws. Others understand little about court procedures, and it shows. Still others think they know things they don’t, which often results in frivolous cases or irrelevant assertions.
It’s true that pro se litigants don’t act like lawyers in court, but why should they? They aren’t lawyers. Still, they have a right to represent themselves in court. Rather than recognize and protect these rights, which should be their job, courts take the easy way out. They restrict pro se litigant access to judges. They bar them from using certain court services and raise fees. Courts may even resolve cases without jury trials, all for the sake of restricting pro se actions.
In short, the courts want us out. Lawyers have a great opportunity here. You esquires extraordinaire, go out and hunt down a pro se litigant and throw open the doors of justice for them with your polished oratory.
Read the full article: R.I.P. Pro Se Litigants Before the Supreme Court.