Tips for Representing Yourself in Court
Learning to navigate courts is critical to your self-representation.
Show up!Woody Allen is famous for saying: "Eighty percent of success is showing up." The same applies to criminal and civil litigation. I often hear from individuals who are overwhelmed when they receive a summons from the courts. I have talked to people who have let some significant time go by after receiving a summons, and they are not sure what to do. In civil litigation, the result of not showing up can be a default judgment for some dollar amount, but in criminal or traffic cases, the failure to appear can result in a warrant or a suspension of a driver's license.
Use Court Resources.I practice out of Arizona, and some of this is specific to Arizona. However, you can use these tips in any court in the nation. In my experience, courts can be quite user friendly. Many of the clerks are willing to answer procedural questions to help the litigant navigate the system. One of the most important steps to dealing with a clerk is 'be nice!'. The internet also provides helpful information. The Superior Courts in Maricopa and Yavapai County have good websites, but check out your court website for resources and forms. The Supreme Court of Arizona also has a website where a person can access any criminal cases in Arizona by searching under a person's name. Many of the courts either have helpful websites or customer service phone lines.