Individuals In Legal Proceedings Unrepresented By Counsel On The Upswing, Say Courthouse Insiders
- [F]inancially pressed people [...] are representing themselves more and more in court, according to judges, lawyers and courthouse officials across the country, raising questions of how just the outcomes are and clogging courthouses already facing their own budget woes as clerks spend more time helping people unfamiliar with forms, filings and fees.
- “We all know that the numbers are through the roof,” said James K. Borbely, a circuit court judge in Vermilion County, Ill. “You just look at the courtrooms.” Judges complain that people miss deadlines, fail to bring the right documents or evidence and are simply unprepared for legal proceedings. Such mistakes make it more likely they will fare poorly — no matter the merit of their cases.
- Reliable numbers for people representing themselves in noncriminal cases are hard to come by. Nationally there is no tracking system, and each state’s court system follows its own rules. Many people hire a lawyer for one phase of a proceeding but then drop them later. (In criminal cases, of course, defendants have a right to an appointed lawyer.)
For more, see In a Downturn, More Act as Their Own Lawyers.