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What I learned from court observation today

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I hope this will help someone who is terrified to appear in court!

I showed up today to file my Motion in Limine and to sit in on some Small Claims cases. I wasn't sure how to fill out a few lines on the Notice to File Motion, so I popped into the Center for Self-Representation (right there in the courthouse) and the awesome ladies in there helped me out right away. They definitely seem to route for the Little Guy, as they were cheering me on and applauding my initiative. I guess most people just let themselves be trampled on by attorneys.

After that, I headed downstairs to file my motion. The young guy at the desk was also really friendly and helpful, and stamped all 4 of my copies super fast. There was no charge to file the motion - bonus!! I never got final critiques on my motion, but I feel better that it's filed. Its already more than 99.9% of defendants do (more on that later). Later, I mailed two copies (seperately) via overnight delivery, return request.

Now, up to the courtroom. It was a pretty small room, not uncomfortable at all. I would say there were about a dozen others in the room. The clerk asked me to sign in and I told her that I was just observing today, which she very nicely said was fine. A few minutes later the judge came in (my judge!), and we did the "all rise."

There were 3 lawyers at the tables in the front of the room. I think that 2 of them were representing JDB, possibly all 3 but it was hard to hear. The judge started calling them up for their scheduled return dates on the complaints they had served. JDB lawyer #1 embarrassed himself right away. Even though the defendant wasn't there (not sure what the deal was), the judge asked him if he was familiar with the court's "standard order." Of course he replies yes but then the judge totally checks him on it. I guess his complaint didn't have any of the required docs attached. I heard something about an "affidavit or similar" needing to be present on the complaint. The judge ordered a continuance so that the idiot could fix his booboo, and moved on.

Net up was JDB attorney #2. I wish I could have heard which firm she was there for -- I really hope I get her! She was young and kinda frumpy with a dull face. She wore an ill fitting suit that went up her butt and showed all of her jiggly bits (and not in a good way, people!). You would think that a hot-shot attorney would know enough to wear Spanx under those pants, but I guess not. It may sound really dumb, but this was encouraging to me. THe reason being is that I am finally realizing that these people are not golden. They are not smarter, prettier or more put-together than I am. They are not the beautiful and intimidating people you see on TV! But moving on, every.single.name. (but one) they called from her victim list was a no show, default judgement right then and there. I couldn't believe it. THe other was some poor girl who she took into the hallway for 5 minutes and came back with a signed settlement. NOT ONE PERSON FOUGHT!! ONLY ONE PERSON SHOWED UP FOR HER RETURN DATE AND SHE IMMEDIATELY SETTLED! So I feel like I already have something going for me...just by showing that I am going to fight! The judge seemed to be sort of a dry fellow, but I could tell that he was being fair. I definitely don't think that he will side with the Plaintiff just because a Pro Se defendant isnt intimate with the way the system works. He seems as if he will explain things and be patient with the Pro Se peeps.

Sadly, there were no trials so I didnt get to see how that process works, but I definitely feel more at ease with the whole situation. I want to be prepared to fight on Monday, but I am no longer scared. I will sleep well tonight.

Lastly, the judge definitely noticed me sitting in there, scribbling notes. I think he was kind of wondering what my deal is, why was I there but not involved in any of the days proceedings, etc. I hope it's a good thing that he recognized my willingness to put in time and learn as much as I can before I have to be the one standing in front of him.

Sorry that this is so long and rambling. I just wanted to tell you how it went. I have been so nervous and I know that I would have enjoyed reading a recount like this. Thanks for listening and thanks for all of the support and advice that you have all been so generous with. I would not have gotten to this point without you.

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Good for you Panicattack!

I had a sit-in yesterday as well. Only there were 10 attorneys in the room :shock: and I had a similiar observation about dress/shape. Not that I am a judgemental person when it comes to being overweight, but since I know from experience how difficult it is to carry and extra 70 lbs (which I have lost!!!!) I noticed that every attorney (except one) was very overweight, and their business suits looked really uncomfortable, riding in the wrong places etc, one attorney had to fiddle with tucking in his shirt every time he stood.

Though I did not get to see the opposing attorneys, I have a pretty good idea who they'd get to be their "rent a lawyer" for our proceedings, so it was nice to see that, yes, these people are human, bet they put their pants on one leg at a time too.

Good luck on Monday!

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Wow thank you for this post! I'm started to get excited over fighting back, Monday I need to go file for a continuance since i'll be out of town for the court date. I hope there's an open court I can sit in on :) God bless the little guys. I think people in general are tired of getting run over by these companies.


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How does one go about finding scheduled court cases brought under the FCRA or FDCPA?

The court(s) docket. Also I just called around to the courts and asked. Of course no FDCPA trials were going on since that is very rare. I just found a few good high dollar civil suits with big corporations being sued.

A slip and fall at a large grocery store claim, let me know what not to argue in front of the jury. After watching their faces, one juror rolling their eyes, and another one poking the guy beside him an grinning, as their client hobbled to the witness stand, described how his life has been turned upside down, and all due to tripping on a bottle of water.

What was funny is, at one of the breaks one of the attorney's for the guy came up to me and asked if I was from the newspaper. I said no sir, just letting you and your opponent give me a free law school lesson. I said I'm suing a collection agency and have a trial in a few weeks in this court.

He grinned very big and said good for you, hope I can help you learn some pointers. I did not have the nerve to say, yeah, like how to over prep a witness so they do more damage than good. :p Everybody, except the one getting beat by them, loves the underdog. Embrace that role !!

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