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Representing Yourself

The court has helpful resources for those people who are representing themselves. When you are without an attorney, you are proceeding "pro se." If you represent yourself in court, you are called a "pro se litigant" or a "self-represented litigant." A civil case generally refers to all cases other than criminal cases. A civil case is the only type of case you can start without an attorney.  In a civil case, you do not have a constitutional right to a lawyer appointed by the court. Therefore, if you start a civil case as a pro se litigant, you should be prepared to complete it on your own. The court recruits lawyers to assist pro se litigants in civil cases only under rare circumstances.

The staff of the Clerk of Court’s office can help you by answering questions about procedures, but they are prohibited from giving you legal advice. This means, for example, that the Clerk's staff cannot:  recommend a legal course of action or suggest ways to help you win your case; predict how a district or magistrate judge may decide an issue; interpret the meaning of a judicial order; or interpret the local rules of this court, the federal procedural rules, federal statutes, or case law.  Those are all situations where a pro se litigant must use his or her own judgment.


Helpful Links:

Federal Legal Assistance Program, Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association

Google Scholar

Eastern District of Wisconsin Law Library

Wisconsin Law Library