How should counsel behave towards pro se litigants and how should I communicate with opposing counsel?

Asked over 1 year ago - Orlando, FL

I am pro se and the other party has counsel. It seems that counsel is trying to find every little minor technicality to have my motions/claims dismissed. He has began reprimanding me as to how not go about drawing up certain documents. I have maintained respect and always responded with facts and even tried to come to agreements regarding motions. Should I speak openly and tell counsel that he has no right to speak to me in certain ways and demand things of me and also, should I let him know when I am going to file a motion to see if he is willing to stipulate to certain agreements to avoid the filing of the motion. He is filing ridiculous motions back to back and it seems like he is trying to wear me down so to speak. I want to tell him he is acting petty and ridiculous.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Ralph H. Schofield Jr.

    Contributor Level 12

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    Answered . Lawyers have an ethical obligation to act with decorum. I would recommend that you follow that same ethical guideline, regardless of how the opposing lawyer is acting. The reason has little to do with the law and more to do with the respect you will receive from the Judge. if you appear to be doing your best and acting with intelligence rather than emotion, the Judge will be more likely to give you a little bit of freedom.

    As for stipulating to motions, the answer is that it depends (on which court and on which motion). If you are in federal court, for most motions you do have to seek stipulation. If you are in state court, the same is not true, except that you should seek a stipulation for the primary discovery motions (Motion to Compel and Motion for Protective Order). The reason you'd do it on a discovery motion is that, if you prevail on the motion, you may be entitled to recovery of your costs in having brought that motion, but you lose that opportunity for recovery if you did not confer in good faith with the other side.

    The information provided in this and other answers on Avvo are general in nature and limited to the facts as... more
  2. Jeffrey B. Lampert

    Pro

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    Answered . It seems to me that, other than the tone and demeanor he uses when communicating with you, the attorney is doing what he should be if his Motions have merit. When you decide to represent yourself you are held to the same standards as an attorney in preparing pleadings properly. In Small Claims cases the judges typically allow more leeway, but in civil actions, you are on your own, literally.

    I hope you found this response to be of assistance. This response shall not be considered the rendering of... more
  3. Jeffrey Bruce Gold

    Pro

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    Answered . It is a lawyers job to represent their clients, and unless the motions are completely frivolous, it sounds as if he is doing it. Experienced lawyers not how to exploit the weaknesses of pro se litigants and while he should be respectful to you, he doesn't owe you any quarter because you are pro se. If you tell him he's petty and ridiculous, he'll know that he has you right where he wants you. You might as well leave him guessing.

    If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore,... more
  4. Clifford M. Miller

    Pro

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    Answered . Counsel's ethical obligation is to treat you with respect. You should probably treat counsel with respect as well.

    Often cases are won or lost based on what people think are "minor technicalities." So, without knowing exactly what has transpired in your case, it is impossible to say whether councils actions have been proper.

    There is an obligation to try to work out most matters before premium issue to the judge. A certificate of "good faith" is required if the motion regards discovery. Some judges require the certificate for other motions as well. Nevertheless, one person's "good faith" could certainly be another persons "minor technicality."

    I suggest you get a copy of the Rules of Civil Procedure, you can download them from the Florida bar website, and study them. But it than that, if there is enough involved, retain a lawyer.

    This is a summary based on incomplete facts. You should not rely on it as legal advise. No attorney-client... more

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