If you had the right tools to succeed in court on your own, you’d file the right documents at the right time, effectively argue your case, and cite appropriate laws. You’d respect but not cower to judges and lawyers, have knowledge and a strategy to implement, use terms like prima facie, subject matter jurisdiction, and res judicata properly, take charge of your case, and fight with confidence.
How many citations did the opposing lawyer include in that last filing? Did you study each one and look for conflicting case law to sway the judge back to your view? Or did you assume you couldn’t match the lawyer’s research skills and throw yourself on the mercy of the court? A new study says you shouldn’t be so intimidated by a lawyer’s citations. It turns out lawyers overlook relevant legal authorities all the time. And if you find the authorities they’ve missed, you can run away with your case.
Google “pro se litigant” and you’ll see lots of articles for lawyers and judges on how to handle us, but very little on actually becoming an effective pro se litigant. That’s a shame, because civil court dockets these days are filled with cases involving only one lawyer, or none at all. Here’s what being effective looks like, and how to get there.
The difference between a legal argument and your personal opinion is legal authority. Whether statute, procedural rule or appellate case, you win by backing your position with some law. Here’s the story of how a legal aid lawyer helped stop my eviction by sharing an appellate case.
Not every self-represented litigant needs a Case Manager. But when you’re in real litigation — in a knock-down drag-out fight for something valuable — you need to get up to speed, get people to help, and get it together. Tools, training, and community: that’s Case Manager.
When you need to represent yourself in court, it can be tempting to simply fill out a legal form and file it. You want to believe the court clerk or lawyer who gave you the form has your best interests at heart, and perhaps they do. But forms are designed to speed up your case, not to help you win.
The difference between an essay and an argument before a court is legal research. When you show a judge that the legislature has weighed in on your issue, or an appellate court has ruled your way in a similar case, then you’re probably going to win the day. Far too many of us are intimidated at the […]