The Right to Represent Yourself in Court

You have the right to represent yourself in court.  When you represent yourself, you are called a “pro se” party.

The term “pro se” comes from Latin.  The literal meaning is “for oneself” or “on one’s own behalf.”  This may occur in any court proceeding.  This status may also be called propria persona (abbreviated to “pro per“).

The right to represent yourself has long been recognized in the U.S.  This right even predates the Constitution.

The right to represent yourself is not absolute, however.  Courts have claimed a right and duty to make a determination as to whether a particular individual is capable of legal representation.  Courts can inquire into a person’s lucidity and mental status and then make a ruling.