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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
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This question is about the Rights of Pro Se Litigants. The

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This question is about the Rights of Pro Se Litigants. The following is a copy of several excerpts of rulings made about Pro se litigants. They seem to suggest that Pro se litigants are not held to the same high standards as an attorney and that courts often give procedural leniency to pro se. In an existing case COUNTY COURT case where I am the plaintiff in a landlord-tenant dispute, the attorney I am dealing with is attempting every low handed trick in the book, outright fabricating lies in written motions to the court, failing to comply with disclosure request, etc. My question is about how the Colorado county court will treat me as a pro se litigant if I do not follow each procedure exactly as if i was an educated licensed attorney. Please read a couple of the following excerpts and give me your opinion upon the leeway or lack thereof for a pro se litigant:




Brotherhood of Trainmen v. Virginia ex rel. Virginia State Bar, 377 U.S. 1; v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335; Argersinger v. Hamlin, Sheriff 407 U.S. 425


Litigants can be assisted by unlicensed laymen during judicial proceedings.


Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 at 48 (1957)


"Following the simple guide of rule 8(f) that all pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice"... "The federal rules reject the approach that pleading is a game of skill in which one misstep by counsel may be decisive to the outcome and accept the principle that the purpose of pleading is to facilitate a proper decision on the merits."  The court also cited Rule 8(f) FRCP, which holds that all pleadings shall be construed to do substantial justice.


Davis v. Wechler, 263 U.S. 22, 24; Stromberb v. California, 283 U.S. 359; NAACP v. Alabama, 375 U.S. 449


"The assertion of federal rights, when plainly and reasonably made, are not to be defeated under the name of local practice."


Elmore v. McCammon (1986) 640 F. Supp. 905


"... the right to file a lawsuit pro se is one of the most important rights under the constitution and laws."


Federal Rules of Civil Procedures, Rule 17, 28 USCA "Next Friend"


A next friend is a person who represents someone who is unable to tend to his or her own interest.


Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972)


"Allegations such as those asserted by petitioner, however inartfully pleaded, are sufficient"... "which we hold to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers."


Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1959); Picking v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 151 Fed 2nd 240; Pucket v. Cox,  456 2nd 233


Pro se pleadings are to be considered without regard to technicality; pro se litigants' pleadings are not to be held to the same high standards of perfection as lawyers.


Maty v. Grasselli Chemical Co., 303 U.S. 197 (1938)


"Pleadings are intended to serve as a means of arriving at fair and just settlements of controversies between litigants.  They should not raise barriers which prevent the achievement of that end.  Proper pleading is important, but its importance consists in its effectiveness as a means to accomplish the end of a just judgment."


NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415); United Mineworkers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715; and Johnson v. Avery,XXXXX 747 (1969)


Members of groups who are competent nonlawyers can assist other members of the group achieve the goals of the group in court without being charged with "unauthorized practice of law."


Picking v. Pennsylvania Railway, 151 F.2d. 240, Third Circuit Court of Appeals


The plaintiff's civil rights pleading was 150 pages and described by a federal judge as "inept".  Nevertheless, it was held "Where a plaintiff pleads pro se in a suit for protection of civil rights, the Court should endeavor to construe Plaintiff's Pleadings without regard to technicalities."


Puckett v. Cox, 456 F. 2d 233 (1972) (6th Cir. USCA)


It was held that a pro se complaint requires a less stringent reading than one drafted by a lawyer per Justice Black in Conley v. Gibson (see case listed above, Pro Se Rights Section). 


Roadway Express v. Pipe, 447 U.S. 752 at 757 (1982)


"Due to sloth, inattention or desire to seize tactical advantage, lawyers have long engaged in dilatory practices... the glacial pace of much litigation breeds frustration with the Federal Courts and ultimately, disrespect for the law." 


Sherar v. Cullen, 481 F. 2d 946 (1973)


"There can be no sanction or penalty imposed upon one because of his exercise of Constitutional Rights."


Schware v. Board of Examiners, United State Reports 353 U.S. pages 238, 239.  


"The practice of law cannot be licensed by any state/State."


Sims v. Aherns, 271 SW 720 (1925)


B.Platsky v. CIA,  953 F.2d  25, 26 28 (2nd Cir. 1991), "Court errs if court dismisses pro se litigant without instruction of how pleadings are deficient and how to repair pleadings."

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

My apologies but I would very politely disagree with your assessment. Pro-se litigants are held to the exact same standard as an attorney. Some judges may choose, at their discretion, to allow pro-se litigants to be less formal but that is not just an exception to the rule, it is also an exception to the rule. Some courts, such as small claims, are generally built for pro-se clients, and some courtrooms, typically family and landlord-tenant, tend to be more pro-se friendly, but that is simply by general custom and not by rule--if a judge within the courtroom wishes to hold pro-litigants to the same standard, he is free to do so. The county court may simply educate you if you are in front of a more friendly judge, or a judge may instead hold you as responsible, which may include dismissal and setting aside of your motions and petitions if not done correctly, and potentially contempt charges also if you fail to fix the mistakes in front of the court. Both are potentially possible.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX i have not done anything wrong. One last question, in District Court the rules state that the "responsible attorney" is the defendants attorney if the plaintiff is pro se. However, the colorado county court does not state a rule about who is to be the responsible attorney. Is there a responsible attorney in county court and who is it? If there is no rule, is it the plaintiff even if pro se?

Thank you for your follow-up, Chris. You are most welcome!

There is no 'responsible attorney'--it is the plaintiff's responsibility, whether pro se or represented, to ensure that court rules and deadlines are followed. I have likewise double-checked the rules and I was not able to confirm that a responsible attorney is designated.

Good luck.

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