Olivia Miller, a junior partner at the Chad Barr Law Firm in central Florida, described the pro se litigants she sees in small claims courts. In her experience, judicial assistants and clerks offer valuable information to help pro se litigants understand the process. Judges go the extra mile to ensure pro se litigants have time to express themselves and get a fair hearing. Still, most pro se litigants are disadvantaged because their opponents are represented by counsel, and lawyers know how to navigate those procedures at a higher level. Olivia advised pro se litigants to visit the court’s website to find forms and basic instructions. She also recommended they spend time reviewing resources designed for lawyers, such as administrative orders and the preferences of their assigned judge.
Brian Vudkadinovich, author of “Motion for Justice: I Rest My Case,” made a surprise appearance on the show to help close the first season, which ends tomorrow. Brian praised Olivia’s candor and advice. He also argued that lawyers shouldn’t be allowed in small claims courts, but it’s unavoidable because many states require governments and corporations to be represented by legal counsel. Given the choice between guaranteeing everyone a lawyer and simplifying court procedures to make it easier for laypeople to represent themselves, Brian chose the latter. Brian believes the courts should be available to everyone on an equal basis, whether they have a lawyer or not.
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