Pro Bono

Posner says he is organizing a national pro-bono group that includes ex-prisoner

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Richard Posner

Richard Posner. Photo by chensiyuan, via Wikimedia Commons.

Updated: Former Judge Richard Posner is continuing his quest to help pro se litigants by forming a nationwide pro bono law group made up of lawyers and consultants.

Posner, a former judge on the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, hopes to raise money for the group through foundations and other charitable sources, WBEZ reports.

Posner sees some merit in pro se litigating. He told the Chicago Tribune he would like to see both sides in a civil case go to trial without lawyers, like on Judge Judy. As a model, he pointed to nonadversarial legal systems that are led by judges in some European countries.

Forcing a business to go without lawyers could even the playing field, he said. “I’m looking for a judge who’s willing to say, ‘I’m not going to let either side have any lawyers. … I don’t want to have the case clogged up with lawyers,’ ” Posner told the Tribune.

Posner told the Tribune he is thinking of naming his new group the Pro Bono Pro Se Law Group. Friends suggested the simpler name of Team Posner.

One of the consultants in Posner’s new group is Kenneth Abraham, a former Delaware prosecutor who overcame a cocaine addiction and spent five years in prison for felony theft, Posner tells WBEZ. Abraham has sent information to Posner, including “a shocking piece of information” about southern prosecutors using defendants to work at chicken processing plants.

Abraham could be a great resource for lawyers representing prisoners, Posner said.

Another person who could become a member of the group is William Bond, a pro se litigant and former tennis pro who became homeless while representing himself in legal battles over a book he wrote. The unpublished book is a fictionalized version of the 1981 slaying of Bond’s father in which Bond was adjudicated a delinquent. Bond had claimed the book was stolen by adversaries in a child custody case, City Paper reported in 2010.

Posner is seeking to represent Bond as “advisory counsel” in a federal appeal in which Bond claims a judge made a prejudicial statement about being a frequent litigant. Posner tells WBEZ that Bond “is an example of someone that doesn’t appear to have the conventional credentials of a successful lawyer but he’s a very intelligent person.”

Posner has said he resigned from the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after being rebuffed in efforts to give pro se litigants a better shake by reviewing the memos of 7th Circuit staff attorneys who evaluate appeals.

Hat tip to ISBA Daily Legal News.

Updated on Oct. 26 to add new information from the Chicago Tribune.

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