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“Pro se” is really accepting the doctrine of “courts for the poor” and “courts for the rich”

June 21, 2013

              Why is it so frightening and difficult to court without a lawyyer? 

               It’s because it is like foreign language.  What do all these words mean?  Foundation?  Hearsay? Stipulation? Counterclaim? Discovery?  Where did they come from?

               Lawyers wrote them.  They drafted the Rules of Procedure and the Ru;les of Evidence that the courts use.    People in court who do not have a lawyer have very little chance of knowing these rules and how to use them.  Procedure and Evidence are complete separate courses in law school. They are the keys to the courthouse door. Without knowing them and how and when to use them, you cannot present a case to a court.  Neverthess,  Maine courts expect compliance with their rules,  whether you have a lawyer or not.    It is an NBA basketball team against a junior high school team.  And, both teams have to play by the same rules.

                “Pro see litigants are held to the same standards as those litigants who are represented by counsel.”  See Reid v. Bissell, 2009 Me. Super. LEXIS  5 (Judge Crowley); Dyer Goodall and Federle v. Proctor, 2007 ME 145, 935 A.2d 1123, 1127.  The “standards” referred to by Judge Crowley include “compliance with the Maine Rules of  Civil Procedure.”

               In the Reid case, the “pro se” plaintiff failed to comply with procedural rule 56, called “summary judgement.”   This is a very complicated and difficult Rule.  It imposes several pleading requirements  when one party files a Motion for Summary Judgment against another party.  Many lawyers have difficulty complying with the detailed requiremets of Rule 56.   To use the summary judgment rule It requires,  also,  a thorough knowledge of the Rules of Evidence.  (download Maine Rule 56 Word Version.)

The plainiff in the Reid case was opposing a defendant’s request for summary judgment.  The plaintiff failed to  submit in writing evidence to show that there was a real dispute about the facts in a form that would have been admissible in evidence.  He lost the summary judgment fight  because the evidence he submitted was not admissible under the  evidence rules. 

The rules that the Bar has created exist for cases where lawyers are in court.   These rules  effectively  exclude all those without lawyers from the courts where the  rules apply.   Let’s be honest about it.  Those courts are for people who have lawyers. 


The poor must get lawyers, or go elsewhere for justice.


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