THIS AREA OF THE SITE IS ALWAYS BEING UPDATED - SO CHECK BACK OFTEN
Remember - No Lawyer Works for Their Client - They Work for Maximizing Billable Hours!
You Can Do It
I am not a lawyer, but have paralegal certification and have been pro se in multiple cases continually, since 2008. Since according to the current law, I cannot give legal advice, this site provides general information about how to navigate the courts, provides the basics in the civil procedure (there is no criminal procedures addressed on this site), suggests ways to research the law, and there is a repository of sample filings. I have worked tirelessly, along with many other courageous people that I have met along the way, to try to correct this seriously decayed legal system.
The way our courts are functioning at this time, litigation is basically a Ping-Pong game. It is not focused on justice or truth. Attorneys use "civil procedure rules," to distract from the "substantive law." Being pro se is not for the faint of heart because of this, but you can do it. The biggest obstacle is pro se discrimination; this is unavoidable, since all judges belong to the same club as the attorneys i.e. the American Bar Association. Judges can only get into their positions by being funded through the bar associations. The only recourse you may have if the judge is particularly nasty (and most are if you are unrepresented), is to get them to "recuse" or report them to the state conduct board. More of that will be discussed later.
Look at It as Your New Hobby
The court system has become unnecessarily time consuming by design, because capitalism is not conducive to justice, and the country is in a stage of self-correction. When you represent yourself, keep in mind that if the other party has a lawyer, that lawyer will try to generate as much paperwork as possible, because they charge their clients by the hour. If you are the "plaintiff," expect the defendant to complicate and prolong the case- it's to their advantage.
Opposing attorneys often try to assess their fees to you- through claiming your filing is "vexatious" or "frivolous." Clearly, since you are not being paid, the vexatiousness and frivolity is most likely on the part of the attorney, but remember, the judge is inherently biased by the current design of the system. So as a friend once advised me, go for the "low hanging fruit" i.e. the simplest answers you can give, focus on the most important and valuable issues, in the most direct way. Do not play their game. But always respond in a timely manner, which is normally 20 days from when you are served a filing. (In appeals court it is normally 30 days.) It is strongly suggested you sign up for e-filing; most county and state courts now have these online web portals.
Be Prepared for a Lot of Reading
States vary on the nomenclature of their filings, and this site is geared towards Pennsylvania. However, once you get the basics, you can research the correlating procedures in your state. Be advised that not only are there State procedures, but every county has local procedures which you must locate and use.
Attorneys use scripted books, that provide them with all the laws and answers; rarely do they rely on their own knowledge. You can find these books at a law library - for defense and offense, in the various stages of the procedure. There are also good websites to research the law. Two of the best are Justia.com and Google Scholar. Black's Law Dictionary is a useful tool; they have a website that may charge fees, but you can get a used copy online. You can also, of course, just Google when you need a definition.
You will need to mainly use statutes and case law, from your own state. Federal law is only persuasive in state courts, but if you do use it- find the "precedent" from your own U.S. District Courts.
Let's Put Them Out of Business!
Coming Soon - Next: Speaking Their Language