ABA Journal


ABA Journal Podcast

How can you deal with pro se litigants and keep your cool? (Podcast with transcript)

Feb 4, 2013, 03:00 pm CST


I imagine as frustrating as it is for me to deal with a pro se litigant, it's probably more frustrating for them to deal with the legal system and really not know what's going on. I suspect that as annoying as it is for the attorney, it must be even more frustrating for the court staff.

What I'm curious about, however, is what I perceive as the tendency of some judges to basically represent a self represented litigant from the bench. What do you folks think? Is it necessary, or is it an abuse of judicial authority? I haven't made up my mind on it, but it's annoying as hell when you're the attorney and the Judge is basically making objections from the bench.

By John E. on 2013 02 04, 10:03 pm CST

While I've seen exceptions, my experience generally has been that judges lean over backward to be fair, generous, understanding, and helpful to pro se litigants. Give me a wicked lawyer any day.

By George Renneberg on 2013 02 09, 1:24 am CST

Pro Se litigation is a good test for the system where lawyers abuse rules and win on technicalities: certainly, it is not helpful to sense of justice. Also, Pro Se has no resources and no one dear to answer questions even about procedures/rules i.e. simply explain what all those legalizes mean because somehow it is ‘legal advice.’
Too often justice is replaced with a game of rules even where injustice is obvious. But lawyers love to defend Evil because it pays, love to keep monopolies, so they can charge $250/h …. shame on lawyers.

By whatever on 2013 02 09, 10:00 am CST

That is so funny! I am a pro se litigant. The judge commented to other attorneys that I am much better than most of you. That's right! Hey... Judge the attorney is in default. He turns his head, stares at me and intimidates me. But I objected in time for the record What is that attorney doing here? Where is her motion to vacate the default? I did not receive anything in the mail is there a notice of filing and motion in the record? I bet you can't find one. :) Did she ask for relief according to the Illinois Supreme Court rules? Oh.. I get it. The attorney doesn't have to take me nor my case seriously. . That's okay. I can read a little bit. (Maybe enough to stay in the system and not thrown out.) Surprise! This kind of misconduct is systemic.

Oh no! It's not always the pro se litigant. Nine extension for time to answer interrogatories of a pro se litigant. They could not be that hard? Nine months to respond to pro se litigant’s Admits. They could not be that hard. I am only pro se. LOL No good cause shown. Zero extension for the pro se litigant, she it always timely. I bet they thought I was going to get tired and leave. WRONG!

Attorney, your client signed perjured affidavits of indigence in court in front of 2 judges. You know it. Your client sued the Chicago Police Department and received $250,000.00 in damages a few months before and own a huge home near Beverly Hills and you didn't make the court aware. Please don't talk about drain on the judicial resources. Oh yes, her attorneys received $840,000.00 out of her settlement for their fees. What is your duty as an attorney? Pro se Litigant told the judge and he ignored it. It's in the record.

The violation of a person's due process and equal protection under the laws which are guaranteed by our Constitution dwarfs anything this pro se litigant could do incorrectly. Out of 100% of the motions (40), motion in limine, etc—the judge award the attorney 98% and 2 % for the pro se litigant. I was not going to allow my case to be dismissed.

SHOUT OUT to all pro se litigants. You have a right to be in court. By the way I am speech impaired and was denied accommodation for my disabilities (60+ request for adequate acommodation) How about that? It unbelievable but true. It's in the record. I am not afraid. This is my country..

By Linda Reed on 2013 02 09, 6:31 pm CST

Funny how you make sweeping generalizations about Pro Se litigants you may not even know. As a pro se person, I find that there are many attorneys who are incompetent, have their para professionals, and other court staff doing all their work, and they make careless and harmful errors, commit perjury, and obstruct justice just to win a case. So, I can say the same thing about some attorneys.

By Jacquelyn on 2013 02 11, 11:01 pm CST

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