Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Pro Se Litigants

We've created a new page, Law About Self-Represented Litigants, to collect the varied sources about and for those proceeding without an attorney. Sources about the self-represented include:

Pro Se Resources from the American Judicature Society. This extensive site features many reports, some national in scope; some particular to individual states. Reports and articles include Legal Information vs. Legal Advice, Meeting the Pro Se Challenge, Courts and the Self-Represented, and Reaching Out or Overreaching: Judicial Ethics and Self-Represented Litigants.

and Report of the Boston Bar Association Task Force on Unrepresented Litigants, 1998. This report is specific to Massachusetts and includes District Court, Housing Court, Superior Court and Appellate Courts. Recommendations include increasing the availability of attorneys, more accessible courthouses, more direct assistance from courthouse staff, and increased use of alternative dispute resolution.

Sources for the self-represented include two pamphlets: Before Asking for Help from the Mass. Probate and Family Court. "This booklet contains a list of some of the things the court staff can and cannot do for you." Despite the negative title, this actually lists many things court staff can and should do in assisting pro se litigants. Before Going Into Court "contains ten helpful tips about how to conduct yourself in court. Please read them carefully before entering the courtroom." Basic information, but it takes some of the fear of the unknown out of a court appearance.