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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Your opposing party: pro se litigant

Well I had a paternity case over 32 W. Randolph recently and lo and behold the opposing attorney withdrew. How to proceed? This comes up a bit in some of these domestic relations cases and in eviction matters.

1. My client's interests come first. If you can take advantage of the opposing party's lack of experience (frankly whether a pro se or attorney situation) for the advantage of your client, do it! I didn't say be fraudulent or unethical. I said get the best result for your client using this potential advantage. Use discovery and pleading formalities to your advantage.

2. Be the "objective voice" and lower the temperature. This is important in most of my cases where we're dealing with people bickering about totally not relevant issues in domestic relations cases. Cut to chase and see what the pro se litigant wants...it might be tenable and you can get the case settled.

3. How to handle judge "softness" with pro se litigants. This is a tough one and I don't think there's one answer. The issue is pro se litigants being able to get away with stuff and just ramble on in court. I don't think too many judges do a great job of "controlling" the pro se litigants. And then your client thinks, oh, she/he is getting to spout off and such and why aren't I? You as lawyer may need to aggressively stop these outbursts in court.

3 Comments:

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Shark Girl said...

Nice advice. Let me add #4. Cite a WHOLE bunch of laws and cases in your documents to keep the pro se so busy researching them, so they can try to provide an intelligent answer (if they don't run out of time first because they're busy researching the cited authorities)

LOL

 
At 11:46 AM, Blogger Peter said...

My favorite story about how to handle the pro se client was filing the rarely used "Bill of Particulars" against a pro se client. It took him a while to figure that one out.

 
At 7:52 PM, Blogger Dr Linda Shelton said...

Try reading the blogs:

http://illinoiscorruption.blogspot.com/

and

http://prosechicago.wordpress.com/

Then you might understand why many in the pro se community in Chicago who are fighting for everyone's civil rights call attorneys "gutless wonders" along with a number of other choice words.

By the way - we use the same tactics of citing endless cases to keep you busy and filing very detailed motions for discovery, etc.

You might also enjoy one of our jokes: What do you call an attorney with an IQ less than 50?

Your Honor!

I personally wonder why none of you have challenged the constitutionality of Judge Maddux's bogus black line call system. It waste your time as much as ours and causes endless DWP that have to be vacated. Again, the answer is: "gutless wonders."

 

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