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The question concerns an idividual act as Pro se in a legal

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The question concerns an idividual act as Pro se in a legal dispute. I am involved in a civil action, concerning another group, the defense has sort damages and an injunction against my actions, I need case law saying that I can now participate in the case and repreesent Myself Pro se. Fed Court, 11th Cir. Middle district of Florida. I want to stay involed until the end of the case and I need a strong case law, Supreme Court would be nice.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Experienced Attorney replied 8 years ago.

Hi -


Has the court or some individual indicated that you can't represent yourself?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
No, but there is a legal case which says I cannot represent the Federal Government Pro Se. I did have an attorney but he withdrew, based on the treat of Rule 11 sanctions. The defense then changed the request for Rule 11 sanctions against only me and also requested an injunction against me. The Court said I have another two weeks to get an attorney to represent the government. I am trying to do this, but in the mean time I want to insure I can represent myself against any damages or limitations of my freedom. The case is 2:06-cv-681 11th Fed.Ct Fort Myers, it is a Qut Tam case dealing with fraud and restraint of trade issues.
Expert:  Experienced Attorney replied 8 years ago.

I know of no federal or state law that gives an individual the right to represent the government - especially if you are not an attorney - that would be the unauthorized practice of law.


So, you can file lawsuits representing yourself but to file a lawsuit and represent someone else - you have to be an attorney licensed in the state where you are suing and you must be admitted to the bar of that jurisdiction.


Please feel free to ask me to clarify.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
<p>I Know that. I want a strong case saying I can represent myself. I need case law. The case is in Fed Ct. Md Dist. 11th cir.</p><p> </p><p>I Need a strong case saying I can represent myself. The Defense is now suing me for legal fees in excess of $25,000 and for other sanctions. </p>
Expert:  Experienced Attorney replied 8 years ago.
I really doubt that the issue the judge is considering is whether you can represent yourself. The judge is probably considering whether the lawsuit was filed in bad faith in violation of Rule 11. So the right to self-representation is probably not what is at issue.

I'm assuming it is whether or not you had any facts to justify the bringing of a lawsuit. That is a totally different issue.

The right of self-representation is well-established so I don't think you need a case on that. However, when cases raising self-representation have resulted in appellate court decisions, it is usually in the context of a criminal case.

For example, the Supreme Court has held that a defendant has a right to represent himself but, in order to represent himself, he must "knowingly and intelligently" waive his right to counsel.

The 11th Circuit has stated that to his Sixth Amendment right a criminal defendant does "not need to recite some talismanic formula hoping to open the eyes and ears of the court to his request. Insofar as the desire to proceed pro se is concerned, petitioner must do no more than state his request, either orally or in writing, unambiguously to the court so that no reasonable person can say that the request was not made. In this Circuit, the court must then conduct a hearing on the waiver of the right to counsel to determine whether the accused understands the risks of proceeding pro se." Stano v. Dugger, 921 F.2d 1125, 1143 (11th Cir. 1991)

The purpose of the inquiry is to allow the trial court to determine whether the defendant understands the risks of self-representation, and the trial court should inform the defendant of the nature of the charges against him, possible punishments, basic trial procedure and the hazards of representing himself. United States v. Kimball, 291 F.3d 726, 730 (11th Cir. 2002).

Again - I do not think that this is the issue in your case. You need to be presenting facts/cases that your lawsuit had some merit.

A court has discretion to award Rule 11 sanctions:

(1) when a party files a pleading that has no reasonable factual basis;

(2) when the party files a pleading that is based on a legal theory that has no reasonable chance of success and that cannot be advanced as a reasonable argument to change existing law; or

(3) when the party files a pleading in bad faith for an improper purpose. Anderson v. Smithfield Foods, Inc., 353 F.3d 912, 915 (11th Cir. 2003)

Under the objective standard, "[a]lthough sanctions are warranted when the claimant exhibits a ‘deliberate indifference to obvious facts,' they are not warranted when the claimant's evidence is merely weak but appears sufficient, after a reasonable inquiry, to support a claim under existing law." Baker v. Alderman, 158 F.3d 516, 524 (11th Cir. 1998)

Rule 11 sanctions "may be appropriate when the plain language of an applicable statute and the case law preclude relief." However, the Courts are required to keep in mind that "the purpose of Rule 11 is to deter frivolous lawsuits and not to deter novel legal arguments or cases of first impression."

So, I hope that this information is helpful. I'd be happy to clarify for you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
You are getting closer to an answer I am looking for, I am looking for a ruling saying a person can defend himself in a civil suit.

As for your remarks on Rule 11 sanctions, the Court has already issue a Case Management and Scheduling Order, therefore the Court does not believe this is a frivolous suit.

Please try again, quickly.
Expert:  Experienced Attorney replied 8 years ago.

The Judiciary Act of 1789 provides that: "In all courts of the United States the parties may plead and conduct their own cases personally or by counsel as, by the rules of such courts, respectively, are permitted to manage and conduct cases therein." 28 U.S.C. § 1654.

T]he right to proceed pro se under 28 U.S.C. § 1654, is a fundamental statutory right that is afforded the highest degree of protection. It is a right which is deeply rooted in our constitutional heritage, and although statutory in origin, "its constitutional aura is underscored by the proposal the very next day of the Sixth Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution. Reshard v. Britt, 819 F.2d 1573, 1579 (11th Cir. 1987) (vacated on other grounds) (quoting United States v. Dougherty, 473 F.2d 1113, 1123 (D.C. Cir. 1972)).

The Supreme Court said in Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975), noting that Thomas Paine, arguing in support of the 1776 Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights said: "Either party ... has a natural right to plead its own cause; this right is consistent with safety, therefore it is retained; but the parties may not be able, ... therefore the civil right of pleading by proxy, that is, by a council [sic], is an appendage to the natural right [of self-representation] .... Faretta, 422 U.S. at 830 n.39, quoting Thomas Paine on a Bill of Rights, 1777,reprinted in 1 B. SCHWARTZ, THE BILL OF RIGHTS: A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY 316 (1971).

If, as Faretta holds, a criminal defendant has the right to proceed pro se, the right applies with even greater force in a civil context. This is because, while impecunious criminal defendants are entitled to representation by counsel at no charge, Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), no comparable right exists for civil litigants. However, civil litigants, like criminal defendants, often cannot afford counsel. The American Bar Association estimates that thirty-eight million American households are actually denied access to the civil justice system because they cannot afford a lawyer. See American Bar Association Consortium on Legal Services and the Public, Agenda for Access: The American People and Civil Justice - Final Report on the Implications of the Comprehensive Legal Needs Study (1996). For such persons to have access to the courts, their fundamental right to self-representation in civil cases must be afforded the greatest protection.

Because a civil litigant is not afforded an absolute right to counsel, Lassiter

v. Dep't of Soc. Serv., 452 U.S. 18, 26-27 (1981), a pro se litigant in a civil court

must be given an equity of arms or she will be denied any effective opportunity to

vindicate her rights in court. Degan v. United States, 517 U.S. 820 (1996).

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