You Don’t (Pro) Se

The people who complain about frivolous lawsuits often don’t realize that a legislative closing of the courthouse doors is not the only solution.  The courts themselves have great power to regulate and evaluate the cases that citizens have a right to bring.  

Case in point:  dealing with the so-called “serial filers,” which are present in virtually every jurisdiction in the country.  Serial filers are those who constantly file lawsuits, on a pro se basis, seemingly against everyone and everything.  Their legal claims are rarely successful, often being dismissed early in the process, but they consume valuable time that our courts could be spending on legitimate legal controversies.  

Many lawyers are applauding a recent order of the Indiana Supreme Court setting limits on pro se filers.  Inspired by one plaintiff with more than 120 pro se filings to his credit during the past six years alone, the Indiana high court has instituted new rules in a published opinion governing such filings.

In addition to requiring pro se plaintiffs to clearly state their requested relief at the beginning of their filings, the opinion permits courts to limit the number of words or pages in a filing and allows for civil or criminal penalties for those who fail to abide by the new guidelines.

Some critics of the justice system don’t really know much about the courtroom other than what they read in some of the more sensational accounts of trials.  But judges and other leaders of the bar work every day to improve the judicial branch for everyone.  And that’s exactly what the Indiana Supreme Court has done here.  

 

Posted: 12/5/2014 12:00:00 AM by On the Merits Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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