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Judge in Cap 1 case Accuses me of "Ghost Written Pleadings"

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Just received a new legal hurdle in the Capital One case, this time from the judge, stating that my Motion for Relief from Judgment (posted on a previous thread) signed by me and filed was not, in fact, prepared by me. In this, the judge includes a copy of a letter written by all four judges in the .... Judicial District in 2002 that expresses their "serious concern" over "ghost written pleadings".

So basically the judge does not believe that I wrote this pleading or that it was prepared with the assistance of council. I really don't know how serious to take this or how to respond??? Is this a sort of compliment? Do I now have to prove somehow that I wrote these pleadings, and if so, how?

I did study law several years ago, for less than a semester, at the University of Houston before dropping out. Do I need to disclose this???

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I agree with jackson212.

What is the basis for this judge's conclusion? To assume someone did or didn't do something is one thing...to be able to prove it is quite a different thing.

With all the information available on the Internet (public and free), there's nothing to prevent a creative individual from copy/pasting, making changes to the information and presenting it. Prove otherwise. But first of all, be prepared to prove that is, in fact, what I did (short of assuming).

RL

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Write back to the judge explaining how you drafted your pleading. If you have a pacer account, or a law research source you use, like justica.com or such reference that. I would end with "...and other Internet resources", without directly referencing this board. If pressed on the issue, do not perjure yourself, but I think you will be fine. The judge may press you on the understand of the law or the case law you referenced, so be prepared to answer questions and quote sources for your arguments.

Tell the truth and reference your sources, and you will be fine.

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It shouldn't matter if it was written by you or not. But I think it relates more to attorneys being responsible for what they write than the concern over a pro se litigant submitting something they didn't write.

If it was, say so. If it wasn't, check with the Kansas state bar to see if it has a position on ghost writing. Some states have held that it isn't an ethical violation, e.g., North Carolina, while other states, e.g., New York, call it "improper." I don't know how Kansas views the issue.

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I did study law several years ago, for less than a semester, at the University of Houston before dropping out. Do I need to disclose this???

I don't know that you NEED to disclose this but what would it hurt? I'm not sure part of the first semester of law school is going to make you all that knowledge to be accused of someone else writing your pleadings, but it certainly makes you more aware than the average pro se and better prepared to find the information you need to find.

I bet they suspect you have an attorney friend/relative who is writing all of this for you without signing any of the documentation. If so UH OH :shock:...if you really have done all the work yourself, what a great compliment!

You might start your letter in response off by thanking them for the compliment :lol:;)

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Attorneys "ghost write" all the time via their legal software!!!

With some of this software, the legal pro just types in the clients name,particulars, etc, and makes key stroke for "print".

"me thinks [they] doth protests too much" :-)

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In some states if an attorney gives advise or especially writes a legal filings, they are required to sign it. I would imagine this is the case fornthem to make an issue of it.

Software and forms are ok for attorneys to use because they have to sign thire name to the filing stating they have read and understand what they are filing.

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I agree with the above postings, particular nascar and lheart. The concern here is that pleadings are to be signed by attorneys (so they are accountable), and if this isn't occurring, then the rules are being circumvented. It isn't about you as pro se really.

So...in what form were you notified? A letter?

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Thanks for all the opinions on this.

I have not researched how the state or federal statutes and rules view "ghost written pleadings" but I do know how the judge in this court views it. As mentioned, she did enclose a copy of a letter written by all four judges in the .... Judicial District in 2002 which state their opinion on the matter.

."

According to the letter, "ghost written pleadings" are defined as "pleadings prepared by a licensed member of the bar for a client who then presents those pleadings as his or her own, while ostensibly proceeding pro se." The letter cites K.S.A. 60-211 which basically states that an attorney must sign and include contact info on all motions and pleadings that they've prepared. The letter seems to establish that an attorney client relationship is not dependent upon a fee or contract but can be "implied from the conduct of the parties."

The concern seems to be the lack of accountability of an attorney combined with the "latitude given to pro se pleadings", as pro se pleadings are to be "liberally construed". This could (I am guessing) result in an unfair advantage for the pro se litigant. It goes on to say that this is an ethics issue and "concerns a violation of Rule 3.3, Candor Toward the Tribunal, and Rule 8.4©, Misconduct, "involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation". These rules seem to deal directly to ethical violations and misconduct by lawyers.

The bottom line is that I did write these pleadings myself. I did not get any advice from an attorney in writing these, and if I was lucky enough to have a good attorney to do so, I have no reason why I wouldn't disclose this. I would assume that all local KS attorneys are aware of the courts view on "ghost written pleadings" and, all risk aside, the advantage a pro se litigant would gain from a lawyer just preparing pleadings without disclosing this is slightly minimal if at all.

I don't have a Pacer account and did not use any one particular law website. In preparing most of my pleadings I would often first post in these forums the issue at hand and then follow up on any leads with a google search. I used other court documents found in these searches as examples to follow in the general layout of the pleading. If I was lucky enough to find a court document online that closely dealt with a similar legal issue I would use it as a model and reword the document so that it addressed the details of my particulary situation. There was not even any cut and paste involved, except for the citation formula for relevant case law.

There was also a lot of research involved which required me to read up on various Kansas statutes and even putting to use an old copy of Black Letter Outline of Civil procedure from my law school days. Through basic google searches I found case law that dealt with whatever legal issue I was looking for and read up on it. Through all this research, and possibly a short stint in law school, I have obviously learned a little about the legal process and where to locate information.

My motivation is the fact that I am representing myself pro se because I cannot afford a decent attorney. It is sort of an act of desperation and I have also been spurred along the way with the recent dismissal of one of my creditors, HSBC Bank, which showed me that I was able to do this correctly (and boosted my confidence).

I have done a little search on "ghost written pleadings" and have found that this seems to deal only with attorneys. There does not seem to be anything on litigants being falsely accused of ghost writing or how one is supposed to disprove these accusations. I am planning to write a letter to the judge in which I will explain how I was able to write these pleadings. I will be sure and post it.

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According to the letter, "ghost written pleadings" are defined as "pleadings prepared by a licensed member of the bar for a client who then presents those pleadings as his or her own, while ostensibly proceeding pro se."
The bottom line is that I did write these pleadings myself. I did not get any advice from an attorney in writing these

That is "that" then, IF you indeed wrote them yourself impossible to prove otherwise.

As a "side note" when my wife filed in the local courthouse her answers/AD to Midland the ladies at the clerk's office "warned her" that IF a lawyer had prepared them and she came Pro Se she could get into "serious hot water", when wife (who has two Master's in Education) stated she was aware but she had written them herself, they were amazed (to say the least) ;)

After the filing we DID meet with a couple lawyers and they too were amazed how well she did and told her they would feel guilty "stepping in and getting paid" when she had already completed things exactly as they would have ! (our goal was having them help us pursue her counterclaim pleadings more than anything)

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That might explain why the judge asked me where I did my research in the arguement stage of my preliminary objections to the plaintiffs complaint. I sited RCP and case law. She asked me to tell her a little about one of the cases I cited. When I did she just nodded and moved on. So be prepared to answer or explain anything you write down in your pleadings.

I'm not sure what my state says about ghost pleadings.... but I do my own research and investigating to protect myself and to be able to go on the offensive when the time comes..

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I'd ask how is "ghost written" different from "boilerplate" filings that lawyers use all the time? The issue isn't who wrote...its does it hold merit under the law.

i agree 100% As it relates to the prosecution of your defense to the lawsuit, it does not matter who wrote your pleadings...if the court wishes to make an inquiry as to the authorship of your pleadings that is an entirely different matter and unrelated to your current defense of this case.

I would file a notice to the court seeking clarification as to the intent of the Court's remarks ...just my opinion.

Edited by Xcalibar
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I am getting around to writing my response to the judge. Just wondering if I should use a regular business format (similar to her letter)? The reason being is that I like Xcalibar's idea of filing a notice to the court seeking clarification as to the intent of the courts remarks. Would this be in the format of a new motion?

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Guest usctrojanalum

If the judge communicated with you ex parte, I would just respond the same way. I'm sure the other side wouldn't be too happy about that but it's not really in your control. I would advise strongly against what xcaliber said. I would in no way want to tell a Court what they should or should not do, cause to be honest they really can do whatever the heck they want.

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Okay... here is my response to the judge's letter. I think I will use basic business letter format and drop it off at the courthouse tomorrow. I tried to keep out any emotional tone and to stay brief and on point. Please let me know if there is anything I should add or take out.

Dear Judge:

Defendant has received your letter of concern regarding ghost written pleadings and would like to seek clarification as to the intent of the Court’s remarks. As a pro se litigant, it is the Defendant’s view that the Court should not issue any statements that would be reasonably misconstrued by the Defendant.

Defendant would also like to assure the Court that Defendant did not seek nor receive advice from any attorneys in preparing any pleadings. Defendant is fully aware of the ethical implications in the ghost writing practice and that this is in violation of K.S.A. 60-211. Defendant assures the Court that the pleadings signed by the Defendant were, in fact, prepared by the Defendant.

Respectfully submitted,

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Guest usctrojanalum

And today, I saw a perfect example of why the Courts should be concerned about these "ghost-written" pleadings.

My boss is suing an ex-client over unpaid attorneys fees. The attorney for the ex-client today mailed us an answer that was a defense to a no-fault claim. Such things as the insured did not show up for independent medical exams, the insured was not driving at the time of the accident, and other defenses that relate to no-fault litigation.

Now what probably/obviously happened, is the attorney had some oblivious paralegal prepare the answer not realizing what type of claim the lawsuit was and just used a previous template and the attorney just signed off on it.

That however, is not the same thing you are doing. I would just tell the judge listen, between research on the internet, studying the rules of civ pro and other means of information available, I constructed these pleadings. Some of it was borrowed from certain literature I found. But it is all my work. How they going to prove otherwise.

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Guest usctrojanalum
Okay... here is my response to the judge's letter. I think I will use basic business letter format and drop it off at the courthouse tomorrow. I tried to keep out any emotional tone and to stay brief and on point. Please let me know if there is anything I should add or take out.

Dear Judge:

Defendant has received your letter of concern regarding ghost written pleadings and would like to seek clarification as to the intent of the Court’s remarks. As a pro se litigant, it is the Defendant’s view that the Court should not issue any statements that would be reasonably misconstrued by the Defendant.

Defendant would also like to assure the Court that Defendant did not seek nor receive advice from any attorneys in preparing any pleadings. Defendant is fully aware of the ethical implications in the ghost writing practice and that this is in violation of K.S.A. 60-211. Defendant assures the Court that the pleadings signed by the Defendant were, in fact, prepared by the Defendant.

Respectfully submitted,

Get rid of the part I bolded imo, don't tell the Court what statements they should or should not issue.

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Thanks... I went ahead and removed the part about statements being reasonably misconstrued. This is what I will submit....

Dear Judge:

Defendant has received your letter of concern regarding ghost written pleadings and would like to seek clarification as to the intent of the Court’s remarks. Defendant would also like to assure the Court that Defendant did not seek nor receive advice from any attorneys in preparing any pleadings. Defendant is fully aware of the ethical implications in the ghost writing practice and that this is in violation of K.S.A. 60-211.

Defendant assures the Court that the pleadings signed by the Defendant were, in fact, prepared by the Defendant.

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