How To Write Your Own Pro Se Motions.
PreparationFirst, you want to use your computer and your printer to type your pleading (motion) up. It should be letter size paper and the font should be 12 point. Except for the top part, the style of the case, it should be at either 1.5 or double spaced.
The StyleThis is easy but it would help if you have another pleading in your case. Everyone who has ever looked at the first page of a legal pleading has seen a style of the case. In a criminal misdemeanor case, it is often difficult to find a pleading which has the proper style on it. If you have a style in your case, just copy it.
The style is the top 1/4 or 1/5 of the first page and it identifies the court, the parties, the case number and the title of the motion or pleading.
The very top line will list the name of the court in all capital letters. It may say, IN THE COUNTY COURT IN AND FOR VOLUSIA COUNTY or, for a circuit court case it would say, IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE 17TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF FLORIDA, next line, IN AND FOR BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA.
The identification of the court should be about a half inch from the top of the page.
Style ContinuedNext, on the left side of the page you list the names of the parties. You have seen this before. All capital letters:
STATE OF FLORIDA,
Or in a civil case it is JOE PUBLIC, Plaintiff vs JOHN DOE, Defendant.
On the right hand column or side you put the case number and under that the name of your motion, such as:
MOTION TO MODIFY SUPPORT ORDER or MOTION TO ENFORCE VISITATION RIGHTS.
The PrefaceAfter you have the style completed, now you are ready to write the body of the motion. The first paragraph begins with your title and name in the action: "The Plaintiff, John Doe, respectfully moves that the court grant an order to (whatever it is you want the court to do) and in support thereof says the following:"
In essence, you say in one sentence, what you want from the court and then you follow it up with numbered paragraphs as to why you want it to do want you want.
Paragraphs in SupportThen, you list the reasons why you want the order or why you are entitled to it. You list these reasons in short, concise, simple sentences in numbered paragraphs. You presume the judge does not remember what the case is about so you inform him/her. Such as:
1. The Court issued an order of visitation in this case on April 15, 2009.
2. The respondent/former wife refuses to obey the court's order of April 15, 2009 by refusing to allow the petitoner/father to see his child(ren). [or whatever it is that is the problem].
As so on.
You must only state the BARE BONES of you case. This is not the place for a short story or an essay. Just the barest of bones of what you want and why. You will get a chance to TELL the judge the details at the hearing. If you can get this part of the motion on only one page, so much the better.
Prayer ClauseFinally, after listing the reasons why you want and are entitled to the order, you do a final paragraph which begins like this:
Wherefore, the Petitioner (meaning you) respectfully requests the Court to issue an order requiring the Respondent to (do whatever it is that you want to court to do). It is a kind of repeat of the first paragraph of the motion. You may also ask for court costs, if you have any, at this part of the motion.
Certificate of ServiceThe next paragraph is a statement that you have mailed a copy of the motion to either the other party or, if he or she is represented by an attorney, then to that attorney. The certificate goes like this:
"I hereby certify that I have mailed a copy of this motion to Jane Doe at 100 East Main Street, Anytown, Florida 33301 on the 10th day of June, 2010."
It is absolutely essential that you mail a copy of your motion to the opposing party or his/her attorney at the correct address, otherwise your motion will not be heard.
Finally, you have to type your name, address and phone number on the right side bottom of your motion and provide a signature line for you to sign.
Notice of hearingYou are not finished yet. You need to set your motion down for hearing in front of the judge. To do that you need a date and time. To get the date and time you must call the judge's judicial assistant at the judge's office. Tell him/her that you are "Pro Se" (meaning without an attorney) and you have a pro se motion to do whatever and that you need a hearing date and time. Listen to what she has to say and write it down. She should give you a time and date.
Notice of Hearing ContinuedNext you have prepare a notice of hearing.
This is a simple one page document that begins with the style just as you did it above except instead of naming the Motion, you simply call it "Notice of Hearing" up at the top right side of the page.
Underneath you write: "TO: (the name and address of the person you sent the copy of the motion to)
Please take notice that the following has been set down for hearing before the Honorable Judge George Justice on [the date and time the judge's assistant gave you] in room ______ of the Blank County Courthouse at 200 Broad Street, Two Egg, Florida."
Then you type your name, address and phone number underneath, right side, just like you did on the motion. And then you sign it.
MailingYou need to make three copies of both the motion and the notice of hearing. Then you mail the ORIGINAL to the clerk of the court at the appropriate courthouse. Make sure the right case number is on the documents because the clerks only go by case number. You could even hand deliver it if you want. Then you mail one copy to the other party or his or her attorney. Remember that it is absolutely essential that you send a copy to the other party at the correct address. You mail the second copy to the judge's office in the proper courthouse as a "courtesy copy". And finally you keep the third copy for your own use.
ConclusionBy explaining it this way it may appear complicated but it is not. This is not rocket science. You are merely communicating in writing what you want and when you plan on asking the court for it. You simply have to articulate the bare bones of what you want in writing so that the judge and the other party knows why they are there. Even if you don't get it perfectly correct, don't worry. You are not a lawyer and not expected to write like one. And remember, no essays and no venting. The judge is going to read this so watch your language and be reasonable, logical, and CIVIL in what you say. It is at the hearing that you get to give the judge the details so save the details for then, and they must also be civily delivered.