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Quote of the Day - Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes. - Oscar Wilde
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Courts Work To Help Inexperienced Litigants

Access to lawyers is expensive, as I've blogged about before. So it's no wonder that people end up representing themselves. In legal parlance, we call it pro se litigation.

It turns out to be the bane of courts because non-lawyers rarely understand the procedure involved with litigation. Admittedly, it's frequently complicated for lawyers.

So it's not surprising that courts are trying to do something about it. Nationally, pro se litigants make up nearly half of all appeals filed (subscription required to access link). Likely there's a large percentage of those who are jailhouse lawyers, but still half is a big number.

The Ninth Circuit has an information packet for pro se appellants. The Circuit has also proposed some rule changes designed to make it easier on pro se appellants by not requiring filing of certain documents. (Why can't I get that same break?)

Chief Judge Mary Schroeder just finished a task force report that will make additional recommendations to ease the burden on the court and pro se appellants. Those recommendations include:

Districts should coordinate with law schools and consider using law school students to help represent pro se litigants, with students possibly earning credit for their work.

Districts should make it easy for law firms to accept pro bono cases by either pitching pro se cases as good training for young lawyers, issuing success-based fee awards or reimbursing attorneys' out-of-pocket expenses.

I like the idea of law students helping. I did that during law school, and ended up with a case in front of the Iowa Supreme Court, which was a very valuable experience.

What's really interesting is that while the Ninth Circuit is busy helping pro se litigants, it is also doing the same for inexperienced attorneys.

What does that tell you about the Court's thoughts on the quality of practice in front of it?

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Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 at 11:47 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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