What are some common technical errors that attorneys will use to dismiss a pro SE litigants case ?

Asked over 1 year ago - Everett, WA

Are there common mistakes that a pro SE will make ? Can you point out what objections you would raise and provide an effective / proper response to those objections if you were a pro SE litigant in a family motion ?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Matthew Joseph Kading

    Contributor Level 7

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    Answered . Like my colleagues, I believe that pro se plaintiffs are, generally speaking, up that proverbial creek without a paddle (unless you are litigating this matter in some form of small claims or justice court).

    Regardless, if you are facing a well prepared and experienced family law litigator, the number of valid and reasonable technical objections, motions to compel, motions to exclude, motions to dismiss, other types of dispositive motions like the dreaded 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and a laundry list of other technical, procedural and legal problems inherent when a party to the action is representing themselves.

    I'm not sure what type of domestic relations litigation you are involved in, your question does not provide what any professional and competent attorney would consider sufficient information to give you even a sliver of a well-reasoned and thoughtful answer.

    Furthermore, what you're seeking amounts to the Cliff Notes to the Cliff Notes to the Cliff Notes of a compilation of every long Russian Tome ever written. And while judges frequently give pro se or per litigants some latitude when it comes to procedure and technique, but not that much latitude.
    The 5000 characters per question limit set by Avvo would not allow me to address more 2% of what can and likely will be thrown at you by any marginally decent attorney facing a non-attorney in a courtroom. I'm not even going to start, since the thought of what you face is simply daunting and terrifying,.

    Here is the rub, no attorney wants to be made a fool of by a pro se or pro per litigant. Consequently, that attorney gives not his usual 100-105% he or she reserves for every client, now their in legal hyperdrive hitting 200-300% of what they normally are intellectually and physically capable of--which alone is usually more than sufficient to decimate a pro se or per litigant prior to the end of discovery.

    It will also likely be a war of attrition, but not a bilateral exchange of time consuming RFPs, interrogatories, etc. along with the related motions to compel, then for sanctions, then for dismissal or default for the pro se's failure to comply with the valid discovery requests in any number of ways. You are likely to be buried a sea of paper that even the largest firms can have trouble managing.

    I'm being a bit overdramatic and morose here, but for good reason. As every lawyer knows: "A LAWYER that represents him or herself has a fool for a client." You don't represent yourself, and in family court that rule is especially applicable because of all the attendant emotions involved that obscure your thinking and reasoning to the point that it may just look like a big cat toying with its kill prior to feeding. It will not be pretty,

    You need to consult an attorney in your area well versed in the intricacies of litigating family law matters. Seriously, I feel for you. And it is your right, and in rare situations your only choice, to represent yourself. There are, however, numerous attorneys and firms that have considerably sophisticated pro bono or low-cost components of their practice if money is the issue. If you can somehow afford decent representation, and obviously depending on what is at stake in your situation (if the stakes are extremely low, that's one thing, not usually the case in family court, but again, you have not provided us with that or really any other information necessary to even begin to hope to even touch upon your question.

    Bottom line: IF THERE IS ANYTHING OF VALUE AT STAKE HERE, WHETHER FINANCIAL, EMOTIONAL, SENTIMENTAL OR SOMETHING OR SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT DEEPLY, MY SOLE PIECE OF ADVICE IS TO STOP RESEARCHING THE WAYS YOUR LIKELY TO LOSE YOUR CASE AND SPEND THAT TIME FINDING A COMPETENT ATTORNEY IN YOUR AREA THAT YOU CAN AFFORD. All my best and god luck, you'll likely need it if you continue up this famous creek without a paddle. Take Care,

    MJK

    This answer is made available by the out-of-state lawyer ("Matthew J Kading") for educational purposes only. By... more
  2. Constantine D. Buzunis

    Contributor Level 17

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    Answered . I would never advise someone to proceed In Pro Per, unless of course it is a straight forward small claims court case? In pro per cases, attorneys will often agressively prosecute or defend the case. They will often file demurrers, motions to dismiss, motions to strike, motions to compel, motions for summary judgment and summary adjudication, propound voluminous discovery and then bring motions to compel and then motions to dismiss if the other side does not comply with the court orders, along with motions for issue and monetary sanctions! Also taking depositons and subpoena of records without the pro per knowing what is objectionable and what they are and are not entitled to receive, and then in court getting inadmissible evidence admitted and swaying the judge and jury due to the pro per's inability to advocate effectively. Get yourself a lawyer if at all possible, even if it is to help you part time if cost is an issue?

    Legal disclaimer:This message does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.... more
  3. Alexander Mchenry Memmen

    Contributor Level 15

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    Answered . You're asking the wrong question. The better question is: where can I find a lawyer who will represent me? The only way you can learn all the "tricks" is to go to law school and spend 5 to 10 years practicing.

  4. Rixon Charles Rafter III

    Contributor Level 20

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    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Your question is way to broad and the 'mistakes of pro se litigants' to innumerable. No way to help you in except to advise you hire an attorney.

    READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia.... more

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