In her first appearance on the television program Pro se Nation last year, our co-founder Sonja Ebron discussed an array of topics, including her most challenging situations as a pro se litigant, reactions of friends and family to her pro se status, and treatment of self-represented litigants by lawyers, judges, paralegals, and others in the court system.
Her second appearance, in a segment aptly named “Empowering Pro Se Litigants”, began airing on Princeton (NJ) community television last week. Also appearing on the show was the Honorable Richard A. Posner, a retired judge from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and Brian Vukadinovich, a skilled pro se litigant who represented himself in federal court against his school district and won. Brian is the author of the book: Motion for Justice: I Rest My Case. Pro Se Nation is a half-hour program that airs on Princeton (NJ) community television each week. It is hosted by MaryLynn Schiavi, a former pro se litigant.
Sonja Ebron has represented herself for decades in civil court. She and MaryLynn discussed, among other things, the difficult and lonely journey pro se litigants must traverse in our courtrooms. Below are highlights of the interview.
Sonja Ebron’s thoughts on the loneliness of being pro se
“Many tech offerings these days don’t think much of their customers talking to each other. We promote that as much as possible because we know, given the struggles we have with the court systems, that we’re gonna be our best friends. And as you mentioned, most of us…we don’t tell our friends and family when we’re in court. So, we’re very isolated. We’re dealing with these struggles on our own just emotionally, not to mention our information needs. So we’re very proud of our community at Courtroom5.”
Thoughts on the response of subscribers to finding and using Courtroom5
“We are unique in the market. We are the only organization that is actively preparing pro se litigants to do a better job in representing themselves. And so, when people find us, obviously they’re pretty delighted. And happy to jump on and make use of our services. Now, it’s not for everyone I should say. So we don’t do criminal cases obviously. We don’t do cases like traffic court or evictions, where there are really short term very summary proceedings. You can’t make good use of us. And obviously we’re not lawyers, and so we can’t do the work for people, so folks have to be prepared to put in some legwork. But for those who are willing to do that, they’re ecstatic. In fact, we’re happy to make reviews of our services, positive or negative, public.”
On surprises since the launching of the company, Sonja Ebron states:
“Oh, there’s so much, as you can imagine. I think probably the most surprising thing for me is the number of our members who are facing lawyers on the other side. Most of our folks are defendants. We certainly have and serve a number of plaintiffs, folks who have been forced to sue for a number of reasons. But most of our members are defendants who have been dragged into court and can’t experience a default–aren’t willing to suffer a default. But they are dragged into court by plaintiff’s lawyers who, in many instances, are used to suing pro se litigants. So there’s something, I think, of a playbook amongst this group of lawyers…I should say, a slice of the legal profession that is used to taking pro se litigants into court.”
Supporting pro se litigants is something Sonja Ebron is passionate about, and it shows. Watch the whole show on Pro Se Nation: https://vimeo.com/342643108 Add Princeton Community TV to your Roku to catch the stream. If you’ve got a story to share about your experience in court, reach out to MaryLynn Schiavi at Pro Se Nation and tell the world.