How to Represent Yourself in Front of a Texas Judge
What do I do if I have to present my case to a Texas judge and I don't have a lawyer but the other side does)?Texas legal disputes are governed by Texas statutes and Texas case law. If you're involved in litigation without a lawyer, the judge deciding the matter presented must treat you the same as he/she would any lawyer. If the other side has an attorney, your task is a tough one, for the lawyer is likely to know more about Texas Rules of Evidence and Procedure than you will. If that is the case, then your best bet is to read the substantive law that governs your dispute. Most Texas laws are generally (but not always) divided into "codes," and these are available from the state's website at http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/.
What do I get to say to a judge?Texas attorneys have to follow Texas Rules of Evidence (again, available from the state at http://www.courts.state.tx.us/rules/tre-toc.asp) and Texas Rules of Civil Procedure (on the Texas Supreme Court's website at http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/rules/trcphome.asp) and so will you. Don't expect the judge to give you the benefit of the doubt; the judge is not permitted to do that and will hold you to the same standard that the lawyer has to meet. Make sure you know the local rules of the court as well; these are generally available on the county's website.
What if neither of us has a lawyer?If neither person has a lawyer, then the court will not expect you to know how to object or how to admit evidence. Under these circumstances, the judge is much more likely to be able to focus solely on the substance of your issues and will be better able to help you reach a conclusion of the question presented to the court. In that case, your task is to be clear and precise. Avoid name-calling at all costs and never lose your temper. Simply state your case, present the court with the substantive law and tell the court why you should win your argument.