Category Archives: legal procedure

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.

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.

 

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.

Find and Read the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Court’s Rules

You have the right to represent yourself, but with that comes the obligation that you comply with the law and the rules.

First, find and read the Rules of Civil Procedure for your state, if your case is in a state court.  If you are in federal court, read the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Then find and read the rules for your court. Every court has rules, and you must comply with those rules as well as the state’s rules of civil procedure.  Check the website for your court, or ask the Clerk of Court to indicate where you can find the rules for your court.

You must comply with the Rules!

In my experience, the opposing party and the judge broke many rules.  I tried to know the rules, and I tried to follow the rules to the letter.

You should also be aware of the rules that attorneys and judges are SUPPOSED to comply with.  Review your state’s Rules of Professional Conduct.  These are published by your state Bar Association.

Also, study the Code of Judicial Conduct.  These will vary by state, and there is a different Code of Judicial Conduct for federal courts.

In my dealings, I found that the attorneys regularly violated a variety of provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct as did the judges.

 

Fire Your Attorney

If you want to represent yourself in court and you have an attorney now, the first step is to “fire” your attorney.  That’s fun to say, but if it can be amicable, that’s best.  If you have a good relationship with the attorney, simply tell him or her that you’ve decided to represent yourself.  Explain why.  It may be as simple as you can’t afford an attorney.

The first thing I did when I began representing myself in court was to fire my attorney.  I believe he would have stopped representing me if I hadn’t fired him because he was unwilling to risk his career by battling a corrupt judge.  An attorney won’t risk his or her career pursuing an action against judges.  They know the judges are likely to get revenge.  I contacted many attorneys in an effort to find one to represent me, but no one would.

To fire your attorney, simply insist that he or she file a motion to withdraw as well as a consent to the withdrawal.

Then file a notice with the clerk of the court providing your contact information — name, address, fax, telephone, and email.  You do this because one of your responsibilities is to always keep the court informed of your current contact information.

This gives the court a record of who to contact for anything regarding the case.  A letter should be more than sufficient, but call the Clerk of the Court and ask.  Mail a copy to the other party’s attorney.  If the other party is not represented by counsel, send a copy of the letter directly to the party.

You can obtain a fax through a service called efax.com.  This will enable legal faxes to come to your email to be seen only by you.  I also obtained a Post Office Box for the legal mail so all the legal mail wouldn’t come to my home.  I also used a telephone number that rang only to me.  I did these things to insulate the family from exposure to the unpleasantries of litigation.  My ex would be upset just by seeing a piece of legal mail, and you will get a lot of legal mail.

If you have to hire an attorney to represent you in court, I suggest that you go to the biggest law firm in town.  I believe the biggest firms will have “special relationships” with judges that may allow them to win.

The courts have a “just us” system that favors rich people and members of the legal club (judges, who are attorneys, and the attorneys who practice before them.

Bill Windsor