Sumguy123

Can a court prevent a pro se from litigating its case?

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Can a court prevent a pro se from litigating its own case?

Looking for case law supporting the right of a indigent pro se litigant to represent oneself in a civil action in Florida.

Any help or info is appreciated, Thanks ahead of time.

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You don't need Florida precedent. It's your right under federal law as a citizen of the Untied States.

28 U.S.C. § 1654

In all courts of the United States the parties may plead and conduct their own cases personally or by counsel as, by the rules of such courts, respectively, are permitted to manage and conduct causes therein.

However, you better know your stuff. You're held to the same standard as a licensed attorney. I've gone pro-se many times and love it. However, I spend about 100 hours of research time per case.

Edited by Coltfan1972
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Can a court prevent a pro se from litigating its own case?

Looking for case law supporting the right of a indigent pro se litigant to represent oneself in a civil action in Florida.

Any help or info is appreciated, Thanks ahead of time.

It's your constitutional right to represent yourself, should you so desire.

Also, this document may interest you:

"]http://www.flcourts.org/gen_public/court-services/bin/SelfHelpFinalReport0408.pdf

"Of the values embraced in the vision statement of the Florida court system, the first is 'access,' meaning 'convenient, understandable, timely, and affordable to everyone.'

1. Access to the courts is an explicit right of the people,

2. guaranteed to all litigants and not reserved to those represented by an attorney. While the elements in the vision statement were not specifically ranked in order of importance, the decision to list 'access' first is instructive – without access, realization of the other values is impossible."

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"Most U.S. states have a constitutional, statutory, judicial code, or court decision provision either expressly or by interpretation allowing self-representation in state courts."

"Florida Const. Art 1 § 21

'The courts shall be open to every person for redress of any injury and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay'"

"Florida Code of Judicial Conduct for the State of Florida Canon III B 7

'A judge should accord to every person who is legally interested in a proceeding, or to the person's lawyer, full right to be heard according to law'"

List of U.S. state constitutional provisions allowing self-representation in state courts - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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I do believe though if you are going to proceed in forma pauperis, the judge can, and often will review your case before granting leave to proceed to see kind of what its about. I have read cases that were tossed by the judge due to diversity issues, baseless claims, etc. Any more specifics on your circumstance?

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We could use a bit more info.....what kind of case, who is the plaintiff, etc. If you are going to sue somebody, you need to know your stuff. Being a defendant is a lot easier. You can learn this stuff, but we can't tell you what to study until we know what this is about.

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I do believe though if you are going to proceed in forma pauperis, the judge can, and often will review your case before granting leave to proceed to see kind of what its about. I have read cases that were tossed by the judge due to diversity issues, baseless claims, etc. Any more specifics on your circumstance?

Exactly, the case must have at least some remote merit.

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Thank's for your replies, and info, I appreciate it. Sorry for the lag time. Been on the Red Eye Express, researching & drafting paperwork, to get my paperwork in before the filing deadline. I forgot that I had previously argued and filed paperwork on the right of a litigant to proceed pro se quite awhile back. As the case had sat idle for quite awhile, due to the court's ruling requiring me to hire an atty.

 

A hearing is set for the end of the week, on the NOTICE OF LACK OF PROSECUTION. My understanding is as long as you file something within the 60 days of the notice, pursuant to Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.420[e]. The case cannot be dismissed for record inactivity.

 

I don't believe you need to argue the good cause requirement, as long as you have filed something within sixty days of the notice. As any filing is considered "record activity", and the "record activity" precludes the need to argue the "good cause" requirement. But I filed an argument in support of good cause anyway, in case the court wants to go there.

 

The court wants to dump the case anyway, by requiring me to hire an atty., which isn't going to happen. I just don't have any money, and on a fixed income and have been declared indigent by the court. Knowing this, the court ordered me to hire an atty., or my case will be dismissed with prejudice?

 

I did cite the Fla. Const. Art. I, Subsection 22, and 28 USC Subsection 1654, and caselaw. The court's previous order states that I flagrantly disregarded its order requiring me to hire an atty., by filing my paperwork in order to respond and make my record? So I'm a badguy for filing paperwork, and making my record?

 

Bruno, I am the Plaintiff.

 

Q. How long before a post will time out before you submit it? 10, 15, 20 mins.?

 

See what happens soon.

 

Thank's again, Sum kind of a guy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You didn't answer any of the questions posed to you.

 

What type of court proceeding is this?  Is this a civil suit? A divorce? FDCPA lawsuit? Wrongful death?  You've gotta give us something if we're to help you...since what you're saying (Court requires you to get a lawyer) makes no sense in the context of this forum (debt collection matters)...

 

Help us...help you!

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Constitution lesson 101

The Supreme Court has held that the Sixth Amendment, in addition to guaranteeing the right to retained or appointed counsel, also guarantees a defendant the right to represent himself. But It is a right the defendant must adopt knowingly and intelligently. But under some circumstances the trial judge may deny the authority to exercise it, as when the defendant simply lacks the competence to make a knowing or intelligent waiver of counsel or when his self-representation is so disruptive of orderly procedures that the judge may curtail it.

 

You also need to know this Faretta v. California,(1975). Even if the defendant exercises his right to his detriment, the Constitution ordinarily guarantees him the opportunity to do so. A defendant who represents himself cannot thereafter complain that the quality of his defense denied him effective assistance of counsel.

 

The essential elements of self-representation were spelled out in McKaskle v. Wiggins Read it here 465 U.S. 168

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Have you submitted an argument objecting to the courts ruling? Most any judge would be very cautious about over ruling US Supreme Court rulings and Constitutional rights. That being said I recently read a case where a plaintiff in an FDCPA case was ordered to get an attorney in a very well written order. Reading the entire docket was painful, as the plaintiff would drone on and on about the whole JDB industry, never quite getting to the point. Frivolous motions littered the docket including 4 motions to reconsider a very simple ruling which brought up no new issues. When you are a Pro Se you need to be clean and tight in your arguments, sticking to the points that matter and not tell the judge how you have been "abused" by every debt collector that ever existed, etc. 

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Kent made an excellent point. There is a little more to this than the constitutional right. Beyond that is the obligation you have to the court when you choose to represent yourself. You must follow the rules of procedure as any attorney would, and your pleadings, etc. must conform to the rules. You'll get a little slack as a pro se, but not much. Those of us who have extensive experience get none, as we have already demonstrated to the judges that we know what we are doing. If your representation is disruptive to the system in any way, any judge has the authority to nonsuit you. I doubt they can "order" you to hire an attorney....what they will probably tell you is that if you want to have your case continued in that particular judge's court, that's your only option.

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Constitution lesson 101

The Supreme Court has held that the Sixth Amendment, in addition to guaranteeing the right to retained or appointed counsel, also guarantees a defendant the right to represent himself. But It is a right the defendant must adopt knowingly and intelligently. But under some circumstances the trial judge may deny the authority to exercise it, as when the defendant simply lacks the competence to make a knowing or intelligent waiver of counsel or when his self-representation is so disruptive of orderly procedures that the judge may curtail it.

 

You also need to know this Faretta v. California,(1975). Even if the defendant exercises his right to his detriment, the Constitution ordinarily guarantees him the opportunity to do so. A defendant who represents himself cannot thereafter complain that the quality of his defense denied him effective assistance of counsel.

 

The essential elements of self-representation were spelled out in McKaskle v. Wiggins Read it here 465 U.S. 168

Thanks BTO149, for the info and case cites. I have read the Faretta case a few times, but that case pertains to criminal, as well as the McKaskle case.

 

I'm aware of legitimate reasons to deny self-representation in extreme situations. Like if a pro se files numerous rambling paperwork telling judges were to go fry there hamsteaks, etc. Filing numerous meritless complaints in a short amount of time, that get dismissed for various reasons, etc.

 

But the Court has not stated anything in its order worthy enough that would allow a complaint to be dismissed with prejudice.

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Have you submitted an argument objecting to the courts ruling?

 

A.  Yes, via Certiorari to the next higher court. But the appellate court dismissed the petition w/o a ruling? I thought it was the end of the case and no further appeal could be taken. But in reality, the appellate court lacked jurisdiction to entertain my petition on the court's order to hire an atty. or my case would be dismissed with prejudice.

 

This is where the case stalled and sat for too long. Until recently the court issued a notice of lack of prosecution as stated in my other thread regarding this issue. I responded appropriately and filed my paperwork, but this is exactly what the court doesn't want me to do...file paperwork? Like being caught between a rock and a hard place....? So that's where the case is at now.

 

Most any judge would be very cautious about over ruling US Supreme Court rulings and Constitutional rights.

 

A.  You would think?

 

That being said I recently read a case where a plaintiff in an FDCPA case was ordered to get an attorney in a very well written order. Reading the entire docket was painful, as the plaintiff would drone on and on about the whole JDB industry, never quite getting to the point. Frivolous motions littered the docket including 4 motions to reconsider a very simple ruling which brought up no new issues. When you are a Pro Se you need to be clean and tight in your arguments, sticking to the points that matter and not tell the judge how you have been "abused" by every debt collector that ever existed, etc. 

 

A.  I agree, there are a ton of these type cases available to read.

 

But then again, some judges, atty.'s, magistrate's, don't want to follow the rules, statutes, case law, make mistakes, etc. Want to cut corners, or anything to win or get a case off its docket, especially, when a  party is pro se. They understand pro se litigant's are vulnerable to the whim of judge's, dirty lawyer tricks of the trade, etc.

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You must follow the rules of procedure as any attorney would,

 

R.  As any attorney should, but if they feel they can sidestep certain rules and get away with it against a pro se litigant, they will do it. To get what they want...signed orders.

 

 

 

 

 

 I doubt they can "order" you to hire an attorney....

 

R.  I agree, case law supports that.

 

they will probably tell you if you want your case continued in that particular judge's court, that's your only option.

R.  I have moved for a stay of the proceedings previously and just recently. Maybe the court will reconsider their prior rulings at the next status conference hearing, maybe they will dismiss my case w/prejudice? Actually this is what they want to do and did do.

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Case update:  As expected, the court dismissed the case w/prejudice. At the hearing, the judge didn't even ask me if I wanted to respond, ask questions, etc. The opposing counsel just stated a previous order was issued by the same judge requiring me to hire an atty. or my case would be dismissed w/prejudice in 30 days.

 

Those 30 days had long passed, but no further court correspondence was issued, until recently when I got the court's notice of lack of prosecution/court's notice to dismiss/notice of hearing/order setting status conference.

 

I responded by renewing and refiling some previous discovery motions that were never ruled on and a motion to stay the proceedings until they were ruled on.

 

The court rendered its order today, which was titled: "Order on Notice of No Record Activity and Motion for Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute".

 

In the body of the order are five reasons to be checked off if one or more applies to the order above. The Judge checked off the 1st part: ____This action was heard on the court's motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution served on ___date_____. The court finds [1] notice prescribed by rule 1.420[e] was served on _____date______; [2] there was no record activity during the 10 months immediately proceeding service of the notice; [3] there was no record activity during the sixty days immediately following notice; [4] no stay has been issued or approved by the court; and [5] no party has shown good cause why this action should remain pending. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that this action is dismissed for lack of prosecution.

 

The Judge drew a X through the body of the above paragraph, crossed out the last four words: "for lack of prosecution", and next to that wrote: "with prejudice pursuant to the order of ____date______. The order the court is referring to is the order requiring me as a court approved indigent litigant, to hire a attorney at my own expense within 30 days or my case would be dismissed with prejudice.

 

Makes sense to me? I guess its the best/easiest way to clear the judges docket. Lets see we know he has no money to hire an atty., :idea: lets issue an order requiring him to hire one at his own expense, or we will dismiss his case w/prejudice, problem solved. Everyone gets off the hook.

 

After the atty. got the judge's approval, he walked out of courtroom, and I'm standing there like WTF? I asked the judge, What I don't I get an opportunity to respond? Judge, no because the case was dismissed w/prejudice back on ____date_____. I'm like, funny I never received a copy of that order? Well you can go to the clerk's office an get one. I asked the judge if the case was dismissed w/prejudice back then, why are we here now? Why did I get a copy of the notice for lack of prosecution? Judge goes, it must have been a mistake? I'm saying to myself, if it was a mistake, then why does the notice of lack of prosecution have your/judges signature on it?

 

So it appears to me that the judge realized that there was record activity to preclude dismissal, and that's why the judge crossed out the "for lack of prosecution" and inserted with prejudice pursuant to the order of _____date______.

 

So I guess its okay to just arbitrarily decide to require a indigent litigant to hire an atty. the court knows the litigant can't afford to hire? Or the case gets dismissed?

 

So now if I motion to rehear the order, doesn't appear that an argument relevant to the lack of prosecution would be of much value according to the order. But Interestingly, we got a "Order on Notice of No Record Activity and Motion for Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute", yet the "for lack of prosecution" was crossed out...? And replaced with: "pursuant to the order of  _____date_____.

 

So I argue the "failure to hire an atty. and comply with the order issue"? Kinda beside myself here...?

 

The bailiff was a jerk and a half also, rudely telling me I'm not an atty., its over, your done!, with an attitude. Talk about getting railroaded. So I guess if your not an atty. the court can preclude pro se litigants from litigating their cases?

 

Its like the court precluded me from prosecuting my case, by requiring me to do something they knew/know I can't do or comply with...$$$ to hire an atty. So how do you prosecute a case, when the court itself is precluding you from doing so? If you show record activity, they can't dismiss, so they use their alternative ace...you failed to comply with the order we/you/and everyone else knows you can't possibly comply with?

 

And don't forget...I willfully disregarded the court's prior order, because I could not afford to hire an attorney and filed my own paperwork to make my record? I willfully couldn't afford an attorney...? xbugeyesx:?::roll::rolleyes::???:   :???::roflmao: ??

 

I guess the best analogy is: "Its like being caught between a rock and a hard place", or "Your damned if you do and damned if you don't?" True American Justice or True American Just-is Being Railroaded.

 

So any input appreciated, Thanks, sumguy.

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A.  I agree, there are a ton of these type cases available to read.

 

But then again, some judges, atty.'s, magistrate's, don't want to follow the rules, statutes, case law, make mistakes, etc. Want to cut corners, or anything to win or get a case off its docket, especially, when a  party is pro se. They understand pro se litigant's are vulnerable to the whim of judge's, dirty lawyer tricks of the trade, etc.

That is why a judge here was removed, he was allowing a lot of procedure that was not within the rule. He allowed on numerous occasions for a collection agency to file  an affidavit of non military status after a judgment was made, he constantly did things the way he wanted tooo. and it cost him.

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The United States Supreme Court has held that the right to effective assistance of counsel, guaranteed by the sixth amendment
and incorporated by the fourteenth amendment, requires states to provide counsel to indigent criminal defendants.

 

Gideon v. Wainwright

The Court in Gideon held that the right to counsel for a criminal defendant is fundamental,
and that "any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided
for him.

 

In Argersinger v. Hamlin,3 the Court made it clear that the grading of the offense was not the determinative factor of whether due
process required the appointment of counsel.

 

In re Gault,2 2 a civil proceeding, the Court indicated that the defendant's interest in his personal freedom, and not simply the
special sixth and fourteenth amendment right to counsel in criminal cases, triggered the right to appointed counsel.

 

 

 

here is the catch...With civil proceedings,  Courts do not adopt the per se approach that it employed in criminal cases. Instead, the Court held that the decision whether due process requires the appointment of counsel in civil actions must be a case-by-case basis.

 

In Lassiter v. Department of Social Services,9 the Court went even further, holding that a presumption exists against requiring
appointed counsel when an unsuccessful litigant cannot be deprived of his personal liberty. Based on Lassiter, then, when an
indigent civil litigant could not possibly be deprived of his personal liberty as a direct result of the litigation, the Constitution does not require, in the absence of special and compelling circumstances, the appointment of counsel.

 

 

So, if the judge found that you are indigent, then you have a case for appeal, and an even better case for being denied appointment of council your 6th amendment right....I would think a Judge would know better than to make a small claims case a constitutional rights case.

 

You NEED an attorney now,,,this is more than just a civil matter now. Appeal it fast and get to an attorney.

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I just have to say having grown up in Fl. and My parents were in the law professions(Dad-paralegal, Mom legal secretary) that interfacing with judges in Florida is exactly like Dukes of Hazzard. The courts are all about the good ole boy network so to get a hearing you have to file a complaint once you do that every judge in the state becomes your enemy.

 

Just saying, You could have gotten a recusal after the first time. No sack to file it again in the same court, just joking really though I would file it again if you want to continue. And to answer the topic question, They are supposed to allow you to file, but the court can on it's own motion dismiss any case on the docket if it is not in proper form if it is vague and ambigous, or if it is meritless, you see it is a contest of will you appeal the ruling or will you "Just accept it"

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I hear ya seadragon

 

I just have to say having grown up in Fl. and My parents were in the law professions(Dad-paralegal, Mom legal secretary) that interfacing with judges in Florida is exactly like Dukes of Hazzard. The courts are all about the good ole boy network so to get a hearing you have to file a complaint once you do that every judge in the state becomes your enemy.

 

Just saying, You could have gotten a recusal after the first time. No sack to file it again in the same court, just joking really though I would file it again if you want to continue. And to answer the topic question, They are supposed to allow you to file, but the court can on it's own motion dismiss any case on the docket if it is not in proper form if it is vague and ambigous, or if it is meritless, you see it is a contest of will you appeal the ruling or will you "Just accept it"

I hear ya,,,,before i got my license I went to court only to have judges slam me and tell me to pay up, they didn't like me at all. I say what I think. Now that I am in the same profession, they talk to me and even had invitations to hob nob at there parties. You know those kind of parties you really don't have to go to but are still required to show up to. I hate hob nobbing with those rich "people".

Edited by Amerikaner83
next swear bypass will be a warning

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I feel there has to be something the OP is leaving out.  Why did the judge rule the way he did? Why did he require you to hire an attorney? You have been very vague and not answering anyone's questions up to this point.  The case is over and dismissed now, so you should be willing to open up about every detail.

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the state must show that, due to the particular legal and factual issues of the case, providing
counsel for the indigent civil litigant will make no difference in the outcome of the litigation.

 

The only thing left to do is appeal.

 

The OP has not given enough info to determine why the judge may have ruled the way he did.

 

Here is what I was trying to get across earlier when I told the OP that he/she should have strongly objected and made it for the record.

See State v. Thompson, 309 N.C. 421, 426, 307 S.E.2d 156, 160 (1983)
(“Where a defendant stands silent and, without objection or motion, allows the
introduction of evidence of a prior conviction, he deprives the trial division of the
opportunity to pass on the constitutional question and is properly precluded from raising
the issue on appeal.

 

There is case law in every state like this,

 

The biggest problem we are dealing with is the fact that council for indigent persons is only guaranteed for criminal cases, or cases that may deny a person the right to due process or a liberty.

 

Such cases would be, while not criminal, having parental rights revoked, contempt of court such as in failing to pay child support. Or if the person is a minor.

 

Civil cases for indigent rights to an attorney at state expense is determined on a case by case basis.

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If you were given leave to file as indigent litigant, then an appeal should also be the same way. If you will provide more detail a lot of people here would be willing to help you file a solid appeal. Even though most of the cases cited are criminal, the language of the rulings is such that you have a slam dunk on having the ruling over turned. In the order for dismissal, if you told us everything it contains, there was no grounds for requiring an attorney. Had the judge made a finding that you were an out of control plaintiff or something like that, there would be grounds possibly. Absent that, the appeals court would have to agree with the US Supreme Court.

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