Author Archives: admin

Table of Contents

Legal Procedure

Preparation

Pre-Trial

Discovery

Trial

    Appeal

    Fraud Upon the Court

    Corruption

      It Is Possible to Win When You Represent Yourself in Court

      When I began this website, I wrote that you will probably lose when you represent yourself in court.  That’s the terrible truth.  But, it is possible to win.  I just did.

      I have an appeal pending with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  It is me, representing myself, up against the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the United States Department of Justice.

      The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a motion to dismiss my appeal and a motion to stay briefing.  I filed a response explaining why there were no grounds to dismiss the appeal.  Appellate court judges Beverly B. MartinJill A. Pryor, and Kevin C. Newsom denied both motions in an order issued June 16, 2018.

      Those of us who represent ourselves in court should be able to win if we are in the right and prepare properly.  Now, hope springs eternal that Appellate court judges Beverly B. MartinJill A. Pryor, and Kevin C. Newsom will do the right thing and grant my appeal.

      Everything I ever file is based upon my experience in the legal system.  I share all that I have learned on this website.  I encourage you to read and study what I have written on www.RepresentYourselfInCourt.us about how to represent yourself, and do online research to expand on your education.

      Appeal

      If you lose, you should have the right to appeal.  Read the rules about initiating an appeal in your court and for the appropriate appellate court.

      You will have to draft a Notice of Appeal.

      Many courts offer a Notice of Appeal form that you might use.  Check the Clerk of Court’s website for a form, or call and ask someone in the Clerk’s office.

      If there isn’t a form, simply draft a Notice of Appeal.  A Notice of Appeal is formatted it like any other motion: a caption.  Here is sample language that should be included in any Notice of Appeal: “Please take notice that [your name] hereby appeals to the [name of appellate court] from the judgment entered [date judgment was entered].”  Then add a date and your signature.

      Provide a Certificate of Service to the other party.

      There are deadlines for appeals.  If you want to appeal, file your Notice of Appeal immediately.

      I use the Notice of Appeal to include any additional evidence that I would like to get into the Court Record.  I always get mine sworn before a notary.

      Motion for Summary Judgment

      Whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant, you have the right to file a motion for summary judgment when you represent yourself in court.

      In a motion for summary judgment, you ask the court to rule in your favor.  This is done before a trial has been held.  In your motion for summary judgment, you argue that the other party cannot win the case or one of the causes of action in the case because facts do not exist in the court record to support their claim.

      If there are relevant disputed fact issues, you will not win on a motion for summary judgment.  The facts must be undisputed, and you must win because the law provides that you win under the undisputed facts.

      If the other party files a motion for summary judgment, you should be able to defeat it by arguing that there are material disputed facts.

      Motions

      In litigation, there are a lot of motions.

      A motion is a legal procedure used to bring a limited issue before the court for a decision.  Motions may be made at any point, but the filing of motions is regulated by court rules.

      The party making the motion is called the movant.  The party opposing the motion is the nonmovant.

       

      Request for Admissions

      Another form of discovery in a civil case is a request for admissions.

      A request for admissions is a set of statements asking a party to admit or deny the statements or allegations made in the statements.

      In federal court, request for admissions is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 36.

      Conduct Discovery

      As a party in a lawsuit, you have the right to request documents in the possession or control of the other party.  You obtain these documents by filing a Motion to Request Production of Documents.

      Discovery requests can be drafted fairly broadly, but they must be specific to the case and limited in time.

      The other party can also request documents in your possession or control.

      Be sure to preserve any evidence that could relate to your case.

      Organize Your Evidence

      Think about the evidence that could apply to your case, and then gather hard copies.  Then organize it.

      An Excel spreadsheet is an excellent way to organize your evidence.  I create an Excel file named Evidence-2018-05-11.  (2018-05-11 being the date you create the file.  If you always use yyyy-mm-dd as the date naming convention in your files, it will enable you to find documents chronologically and identify the most recent version.)  [Evidence-Sample-2018-05-11]

      Give consistent names to documents.  For example, always write “Letter to _____ about _____.”  “Letter from _________ about ______.” Email, Fax, etc., etc.  be consistent so you can sort your spreadsheet to find all evidence of specific types.

      Date each document.  If time of day is important, you should use yyyy-mm-dd-mm-ss.  When I don’t know the exact time, I guess or put 00-00 for minutes and seconds.

      Identify the Issue that the evidence applies to.

      Insert the filename.  Then you may wish to add a note as to the importance of the document.

      To get the filename, you need to put all of your evidence into a folder on your computer.  You will likely have some documents in digital format.  Find those, and put copies in your Evidence Folder.  You will need to rename these files.

      Then scan all paper documents, and give each document a proper filename.

      Your filenames should all be chronological.  This enables you to sort your Evidence Folder and your spreadsheet to get a history of the documents applicable to your case.  You must be consistent to find things easily.

      Your file names should start with yyyy-mm-dd-mm-ss-(what it is, such as letter)-brief description.  So, for example, a letter to Barbara dated April 6, 2013 about settlement would be: “2013-04-06-Letter-to-Barbara-settlement.xls”  If I wanted to have evidence identified by time of day, I would put “2013-04-06-00-00-Letter-to-Barbara-settlement.xls” as I don’t know the time of day she wrote the letter.

      Right-click on the filename in Windows Explorer as if you were renaming the file, and simply copy the filename.  Then paste it into the Filename filed on your spreadsheet.

      Scan the documents needed, and ensure that all evidence is properly named in your Evidence Folder.  As additional evidence is identified, add each document to your Evidence Folder in the same manner.  When you receive documents from the other side, add that evidence as well.

      Thinking long and hard about what evidence may exist is extremely important.  You need to prove your case.  It is also extremely worthwhile to gather evidence that proves the other side lies and cheats, when applicable.

      Identify people who may be witnesses to the issues in dispute.  Talk to them to see what they saw or heard.

      If the lawsuit is about a contract dispute, the contract itself is a critical piece of evidence.

      Communications between you and the other party may be evidence.

      Store the original copies of your evidence in a safe place.  And, as discussed above, scan your paper documents so you have digital copies.

      File Your Complaint or Your Answer

      You must file your complaint or petition in the appropriate court.  Most courts will require you to pay a fee, while some will not.

      Check the website for the Clerk of Court for the court that you have determined is the court where your lawsuit should be filed.  The Clerk’s web page should have a section for forms and fees.  Identify the form that you will need to file with your complaint or petition.  The form should indicate whether a fee is required.  If you have questions about forms or fees, ask someone in the Clerk of Court’s office.

      You might want to visit the office of the Clerk of Court in person rather than do this online or by telephone.  The staff will never give legal advice, but they should answer questions and help you with basic procedural matters.

      Some states require that a request a jury be made with your complaint.  This may be required in your complaint, or there may be a checkbox on the form that you file as a “cover sheet” to go with your complaint when it is filed.  If you want a jury trial, simply check the box and pay the jury fee.

      I always ask for a jury trial because I don’t trust judges.

      You must have your complaint served on the defendant(s).  Check the rules on how this must be done.

      One of the fundamental procedural requirements in any court is that you must provide a copy of any document you file, either by mail or by personal service (through the sheriff or a process server).  Ensure that you comply with your state’s law on service of process.

      If you are a defendant, the plaintiff must serve you with the complaint.  You must then answer the complaint within the period of time set by state or federal law.  Don’t be late as it could cause you to have a default judgment entered against you.

      Draft Your Complaint or Your Answer

      To initiate your lawsuit, you must file a petition or a complaint.

      A petition or complaint (different states call them different things) is a short, plain statement sufficient to show that the plaintiff should be entitled to relief.  It sets out the facts according to the plaintiff and shows the relief requested.  It may express the plaintiff’s legal theories in support of the request for relief.

      A plaintiff must have a good faith basis for filing anything in court.  The court can sanction you if you file anything in bad faith.  You could be ordered to pay a lot of money to the court or the defendant, so be careful.  Make sure you have a valid claim.

      Many courts have forms you for pro se plaintiffs to adapt for their complaints.  There are also examples online.

      If you are the defendant, you must answer the complaint filed by the plaintiff within a specified period of time after it is served on you.  As to each allegation, you may admit it, deny it, or state that you lack sufficient information to respond.

      Read the complaint very carefully, and think carefully before admitting any allegations.