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Know how to win in court with easy-to-learn courtroom tactics.
Sample forms and research for pro se litigants without a lawyer.
Evidence rules, pleadings, objections, summary judgment, etc.
Any court, any case: foreclosure, credit card, divorce, and more.
Use the same case-winning tactics lawyers use to win in court
.

Pro Se Case LawHaines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 520 (1971)
Plaintiff-inmate filed pro se complaint against prison seeking compensation for damages sustained while placed in solitary confinement. In finding plaintiff's complaint legally sufficient, Supreme Court found that pro se pleadings should be held to "less stringent standards" than those drafted by attorneys.

Ellis v. Maine, 448 F.2d 1325, 1328 (1st Cir. 1971)
Pro se petitioner who asserted complete ignorance of the law subsequently presented a brief that was manifestly written by a person with legal knowledge. Court held that a brief prepared in any substantial part by a member of the bar must be signed by that member.

Nichols v. Keller, 19 Cal.Rptr.2d 601 (1993)
Plaintiff who consulted defendants' law firms regarding workers' compensation claim was not advised of potential for additional third party claim before statue of limitations expired. Defendants argued that plaintiff's representation was limited only to filing workers' compensation claim and no duty existed to advise plaintiff in any other matter. Court found that representation was not limited solely to workers compensation claim, and defendants should have advised plaintiff regarding third party claim.

Johnson v. Board of County Comm'rs, 868 F.Supp. 1226 (D. Colo. 1994)
Former sheriff department workers bring sexual harassment suit against county sheriff in his individual and official capacities. Attorney representing sheriff enters limited appearance on behalf of his official capacity. Court finds that attorney cannot enter limited appearance on behalf of sheriff's official capacity. Attorney representing sheriff must act for the entire person, including individual and official capacities. Entering such limited appearance is not competent and zealous representation as required by ethical rules as it leaves officer undefended on individual capacity claims. Court further finds that ghostwriting of documents for pro se litigants may subject lawyers to contempt of court. Ghostwriting gives litigants unfair advantage in that pro se pleadings are construed liberally and pro se litigants are granted greater latitude in hearings and trials. Ghostwriting also results in evasion of obligations imposed on attorneys by statute, code, and rule, and involves lawyers in litigants' misrepresentation of pro se status in violation of ethical rules.

Laremont-Lopez v. Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Ctr., 968 F.Supp. 1075 (E.D. Va. 1997)
Over a period of time, pro se plaintiffs submitted pleadings that had been written by attorneys pursuant to discrete-task representation contracts. The attorneys did not sign the pleadings, and in most cases did not appear as counsel of record. When ordered to show cause by the court as to why they should not be held in contempt of court, attorneys argued that the professional relationships created with the litigants ended once they had drafted the pleadings. Court held that there was insufficient evidence to show that the attorneys knowingly misled the court or intentionally violated ethical or procedural rules and declined to impose sanctions. However, court stated that the practice of ghostwriting pleadings without acknowledging authorship and without asking court approval to withdraw from representation was inconsistent with Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 and Rule 83.1(G) of the Local Rules for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Court stated that allowing attorneys to ghostwrite pleadings for pro se plaintiffs abused additional leeway given to pro se filings.

U.S. v. Eleven Vehicles, 966 F.Supp. 361 (E.D.Pa. 1997)
Court finds that ghostwriting by attorney for a pro se litigant implicates an attorney's duty of candor to the court, interferes with the court's ability to supervise the litigation, and misrepresents the litigant's right to more liberal construction as a pro se litigant.

Wesley v. Don Stein Buick, Inc., 987 F.Supp. 884 (D.Kan. 1997)
In suit brought by pro se plaintiff, defendants sought order requiring plaintiff to disclose whether she was an attorney or received the assistance of a lawyer. In expressing legal and ethical concerns regarding the ghostwriting of pleadings by attorneys, the court held the defendants were entitled to the order.

Ricotta v. California, 4 F.Supp.2d 961 (S.D. Cal. 1998)
Attorney licensed in the State of California did not violate procedural, substantive, and professional rules of a federal court by lending some assistance to friends, family members, and others with whom she shared specialized knowledge. Attorney performed research and prepared rough drafts of portions of pro se litigant's pleadings in an action against various official defendants, but did not sign the documents. Because attorney did not gather and anonymously present legal arguments with the actual or constructive knowledge that plaintiff would use them in court, and because attorney did not engage in extensive, undisclosed participation that permitted plaintiff to falsely appear as being without professional assistance, attorney had not violated any rules.

Ostrovsky v. Monroe (In re Ellingson), 230 B.R. 426 (Bankr.D.Mont. 1999)
Paralegal who helped a business draft and file bankruptcy papers was found to be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. Court notes that if an attorney acted in the same manner as paralegal, that person would be guilty of "ghost writing," which is described as the act of undisclosed attorney who assists a self-represented litigant by drafting his or her pleadings as part of "unbundled" or limited legal services. Court also notes that ghostwriting violates court rules, particularly Fed.R.Civ.P. 11, as well as ABA Standing Committee Opinion 1414 in Ethics and Professional Responsibility.

Jones v. Bresset, 2000 W: 3311607 (47 Pa. D. & C 4th 60)
Defendant was an attorney hired by plaintiff in the midst of plaintiff’s bankruptcy proceedings. The plaintiff had already obtained counsel of record, and hired defendant solely for the purpose of securing an accounting in the bankruptcy proceeding. The defendant alerted plaintiff of limited scope of his representation, advising plaintiff that problems may arise outside the scope of his representation. Plaintiff commenced a legal malpractice suit against his attorney of record stating negligence, and included the defendant in the claim. The court found that since the defendant distinctly limited the scope of his representation and urged the plaintiff to hire separate counsel for other matters, the defendant had no legal duty to investigate or advise plaintiff on existence of malpractice by attorney of record.

Ostevoll v. Ostevoll, 2000 WL 1611123 (S.D. Ohio)
Respondent argues that the Petition should be stricken pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 because, although allegedly filed pro se, petitioner clearly received substantial assistance from counsel in the preparation and filing of the Petition. Court finds that if a pleading is prepared in any substantial part by a member of the bar, it must be signed by that attorney to avoid misrepresentation.

Streit v. Covington & Crowe, 82 Cal.App. 4th 441 (2000)
In a lawsuit, plaintiff’s counsel of record requested that another firm make a "special appearance" at a summary judgment motion, appearing on behalf of counsel of record. Plaintiff filed a legal malpractice suit after a summary judgment was entered against her, arguing that the special appearance created an attorney-client relationship. The appellate court found that an attorney making a special appearance represents the client’s interests and has a professional attorney-client relationship with the client. Further, the voluntary appearance created a limited representation status and not a true "special appearance".

Armor v. Lantz, 207 W. VA 672, 535 S.E.2d 737 (2000)
Appellants brought legal malpractice suit against local attorney retained by Ohio lawyer in products liability case. Appellants claimed that West Virginia lawyer who acted as local counsel was liable for malpractice of Ohio lawyer. Court found that, while it was difficult to clearly define the role of local counsel according to West Virginia rules, the local attorney had effectively entered a limited representation agreement and was therefore not responsible for all aspects of the case or for the Ohio lawyer’s conduct.

Duran v. Carris, 238 F.3d 1268 (10th Cir. 2001)
Lawyer participated in ghostwriting appellate brief for a pro se litigant. Court holds that participation by an attorney in drafting otherwise pro se appellate brief is per se substantial legal assistance, and must be acknowledged by signature. An attorney must refuse to provide ghostwriting assistance unless purported pro se client specifically commits to disclose attorney's assistance to the court upon filing.

Lynne v. Laufer, No. A-2079-01T2, (N.J. Super. App. Div. Apr. 8, 2003)
Attorney, with matrimonial client's consent after consultation, limited the scope of his representation to a review of the terms of a mediated agreement without going outside its four corners. Court holds that it is not a breach of the standard of care for an attorney under a signed precisely drafted consent agreement to limit the scope of representation to not perform such services in the course of representing a matrimonial client that he or she might otherwise perform absent such a consent.

Melvin Finance, Inc. v. Artis, 157 N.C. App. 716, 2003 WL 21153426 (N.C.App.)
Defendant retained an attorney on a limited basis, following an action filed by the plaintiff to recover costs on a defaulted loan. Limited representation attorney agreed to file responsive pleadings and negotiate a settlement agreement, and filed a notice of limited appearance. While the defendant received notice of a scheduled hearing and forwarded it to his limited representation attorney, neither defendant nor attorney appeared at the hearing and, consequently, an arbitration award was entered for the plaintiff. Defendant filed a motion to set aside judgment, which was denied. On appeal, the defendant claimed the limited representation attorney’s failure to appear at the hearing amounted to excusable neglect and that the judgment should be set aside. The court found that since the defendant received notice of the hearing and had retained the attorney on a limited basis, that the limited representation attorney’s conduct did not constitute excusable neglect. The lower court decision was affirmed.

Sharp v. Sharp, 2006 WL 3088067 (Va.Cir.Court)
Complainant and respondent were co-tenants of real estate property. The respondent appeared pro se during a hearing before the commissioner in chancery, but then hired an attorney who appeared in a limited capacity at several other hearings. On appeal, the court sought to determine whether or not the attorney could appear in a limited capacity and whether the attorney’s appearance qualified him as official "attorney of record". The court found that it was not bound by agreements made between client and attorney and that a court may "require more of an attorney than mere compliance with the ethical constraints of the Rules of Professional Conduct". The court found that the attorney could make a motion to withdraw once he completed the tasks agreed upon, but that the court had ultimate discretion in granting the withdrawal.

Discover Bank v. McCullough, 2008 W: 248975 (Tenn. Ct. App.)
In a dispute over a bank card balance, cardholders chose to represent themselves after card issuer filed suit. The self-represented litigants mailed a response to court but then failed to appear at the hearing, which prompted the court to grant a default judgment to the card issuer. During the appeals process, the self represented filed papers not known within the jurisdiction. When the case reached the appellate court, the Court found that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction because the self represented litigants failed to file a court recognized notice. The court found that while it appreciated the difficulties encountered by self-represented litigants, it could not "abdicate its role as an impartial, neutral arbiter and become an advocate for the self-represented litigant".

Burgess v. Vitola, 2008 WL 821539 (N.C.Super.)
In a legal dispute that surfaced over an alleged invasion of personal property, the plaintiff resided in North Carolina and the defendant resided in California. The defendant filed papers with the assistance of a California attorney but, on record, represented herself. The plaintiff sought recourse, arguing that assistance from counsel amounted to the unauthorized practice of law since the attorney was not licensed in North Carolina. As the Rules of Professional Conduct do not require an attorney who has provided drafting assistance to make an appearance as counsel of record, the court found that it had no authority to sanction the California attorney. It did, however, require that the defendant file an affidavit that she intended to proceed pro se and not seek legal assistance unless the attorney is licensed to practice in North Carolina.

Future Lawn, Inc v. Steinberg, 2008 Ohio 4127
Attorney was hired by appellant to handle a legal malpractice claim. The attorney was referred by appellant’s general counsel, to act in a in a matter concerning the handling of an environmental report in a real estate transaction several years prior. A settlement was reached in the matter and around the same time, general counsel was replaced. Following a dispute regarding unpaid legal fees, appellants were sued by former general counsel. Appellants responded with a separate suit, alleging counsel had committed malpractice. They implicated the limited representation attorney, suggesting the attorney had an obligation to advise them of issues surrounding claims of general counsel’s malpractice. The court found that representation by attorney was expressly limited to the original malpractice claim, and that no requirement existed for client consultation before limited the scope of representation. The attorney had no duty to investigate actions of general counsel.

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."

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."

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).

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)

"The practice of law is an occupation of common right."

PRO SE RIGHTS:
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, 89 S. Ct. 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)

"The practice of law is an occupation of common right."

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS:

Boyd v. United, 116 U.S. 616 at 635 (1885) 

Justice Bradley, "It may be that it is the obnoxious thing in its mildest form;
but illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first footing in that
way; namely, by silent approaches and slight deviations from legal modes of
procedure. This can only be obviated by adhering to the rule that
constitutional provisions for the security of persons and property should be
liberally construed. A close and literal construction deprives them of half
their efficacy, and leads to gradual depreciation of the right, as if it consisted
more in sound than in substance. It is the duty of the Courts to be watchful
for the Constitutional Rights of the Citizens, and against any stealthy
encroachments thereon. Their motto should be Obsta Principiis."

Downs v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244 (1901)

"It will be an evil day for American Liberty if the theory of a government
outside supreme law finds lodgement in our constitutional jurisprudence. No
higher duty rests upon this Court than to exert its full authority to prevent
all violations of the principles of the Constitution."

Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 155 (1966), cited also in Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S.
649.644

"Constitutional 'rights' would be of little value if they could be indirectly
denied." 

Juliard v. Greeman, 110 U.S. 421 (1884) 

Supreme Court Justice Field, "There is no such thing as a power of inherent
sovereignty in the government of the United States... In this country,
sovereignty resides in the people, and Congress can exercise power which
they have not, by their Constitution, entrusted to it. All else is withheld." 

Mallowy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1

"All rights and safeguards contained in the first eight amendments to the
federal Constitution are equally applicable."

Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 426, 491; 86 S. Ct. 1603 

"Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no 'rule
making' or legislation which would abrogate them."

Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425 p. 442

"An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties;
affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation, as
inoperative as though it had never been passed."

Perez v. Brownell, 356 U.S. 44, 7; 8 S. Ct. 568, 2 L. Ed. 2d 603 (1958) 

"...in our country the people are sovereign and the government cannot sever
its relationship to them by taking away their citizenship."

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."

Simmons v. United States, 390 U.S. 377 (1968)

"The claim and exercise of a Constitution right cannot be converted into a
crime"... "a denial of them would be a denial of due process of law". 
 
Warnock v. Pecos County, Texas., 88 F3d 341 (5th Cir. 1996)

Eleventh Amendment does not protect state officials from claims for
prospective relief when it is alleged that state officials acted in violation of
federal law. 
 
CORRUPTION OF AUTHORITY: 
 
Burton v. United States, 202 U.S. 344, 26 S. Ct. 688 50 L.Ed 1057

United States Senator convicted of, among other things, bribery. 

Butz v. Economou, 98 S. Ct. 2894 (1978); United States v. Lee, 106 U.S. at 220, 1 S. Ct.
at 261 (1882)

"No man [or woman] in this country is so high that he is above the law. No
officer of the law may set that law at defiance with impunity. All the officers
of the government from the highest to the lowest, are creatures of the law,
and are bound to obey it." 

*Cannon v. Commission on Judicial Qualifications, (1975) 14 Cal. 3d 678, 694 

Acts in excess of judicial authority constitutes misconduct, particularly
where a judge deliberately disregards the requirements of fairness and due
process. 

*Geiler v. Commission on Judicial Qualifications, (1973) 10 Cal.3d 270, 286

Society's commitment to institutional justice requires that judges be
solicitous of the rights of persons who come before the court.

*Gonzalez v. Commission on Judicial Performance, (1983) 33 Cal. 3d 359, 371, 374 

Acts in excess of judicial authority constitutes misconduct, particularly
where a judge deliberately disregards the requirements of fairness and due
process.

Olmstad v. United States, (1928) 277 U.S. 438

"Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds
contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it
invites anarchy."

Owen v. City of Independence

"The innocent individual who is harmed by an abuse of governmental
authority is assured that he will be compensated for his injury."

Perry v. United States, 204 U.S. 330, 358 
 
"I do not understand the government to contend that it is any less bound by
the obligation than a private individual would be..." "It is not the function of
our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function
of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error."


*Ryan v. Commission on Judicial Performance, (1988) 45 Cal. 3d 518, 533'
 
Before sending a person to jail for contempt or imposing a fine, judges are
required to provide due process of law, including strict adherence to the
procedural requirements contained in the Code of Civil Procedure.
Ignorance of these procedures is not a mitigating but an aggravating factor.

U.S. v. Lee, 106 U.S. 196, 220 1 S. Ct. 240, 261, 27 L. Ed 171 (1882)

"No man in this country is so high that he is above the law. No officer of the
law may set that law at defiance, with impunity. All the officers of the

government, from the highest to the lowest, are creatures of the law are
bound to obey it."
"It is the only supreme power in our system of government, and every man
who, by accepting office participates in its functions, is only the more
strongly bound to submit to that supremacy, and to observe the limitations
which it imposes on the exercise of the authority which it gives."

Warnock v. Pecos County, Texas, 88 F3d 341 (5th Cir. 1996)

Eleventh Amendment does not protect state officials from claims for
prospective relief when it is alleged that state officials acted in violation of
federal law. 

DISMISSAL OF SUIT:
Note: [Copied verbiage; we are not lawyers.] It can be argued that to dismiss a civil
rights action or other lawsuit in which a serious factual pattern or allegation of a cause
of action has been made would itself be violating of procedural due process as it would
deprive a pro se litigant of equal protection of the law vis a vis a party who is
represented by counsel.
Also, see Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 60 - Relief from Judgment or Order
(a) Clerical Mistakes and (b) Mistakes; Inadvertence; Excusable Neglect; Newly
Discovered Evidence; Fraud, etc.

Warnock v. Pecos County, Texas, 88 F3d 341 (5th Cir. 1996)

Eleventh Amendment does not protect state officials from claims for
prospective relief when it is alleged that state officials acted in violation of
federal law.

Walter Process Equipment v. Food Machinery, 382 U.S. 172 (1965)

... in a "motion to dismiss, the material allegations of the complaint are taken
as admitted". From this vantage point, courts are reluctant to dismiss
complaints unless it appears the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support
of his claim which would entitle him to relief (see Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S.
41 (1957)). 

EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW

Cochran v. Kansas, 316 U.S. 255, 257-258 (1942) 

"However inept Cochran's choice of words, he has set out allegations
supported by affidavits, and nowhere denied, that Kansas refused him
privileges of appeal which it afforded to others. *** The State properly
concedes that if the alleged facts pertaining to the suppression of Cochran's
appeal were disclosed as being true, ... there would be no question but that
there was a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment."

Duncan v. Missouri, 152 U.S. 377, 382 (1894)

Due process of law and the equal protection of the laws are secured if the
laws operate on all alike, and do not subject the individual to an arbitrary
exercise of the powers of government."

Giozza v. Tiernan, 148 U.S. 657, 662 (1893), Citations Omitted

"Undoubtedly it (the Fourteenth Amendment) forbids any arbitrary
deprivation of life, liberty or property, and secures equal protection to all
under like circumstances in the enjoyment of their rights... It is enough that
there is no discrimination in favor of one as against another of the same class.
...And due process of law within the meaning of the [Fifth and Fourteenth]
amendment is secured if the laws operate on all alike, and do not subject the
individual to an arbitrary exercise of the powers of government."

Kentucky Railroad Tax Cases, 115 U.S. 321, 337 (1885) 

"The rule of equality... requires the same means and methods to be applied
impartially to all the constituents of each class, so that the law shall operate
equally and uniformly upon all persons in similar circumstances".

Truax v. Corrigan, 257 U.S. 312, 332

"Our whole system of law is predicated on the general fundamental principle
of equality of application fo the law. 'All men are equal before the law,' "This
is a government of laws and not of men,' 'No man is above the law,' are all
maxims showing the spirit in which legislatures, executives, and courts are
expected to make, execute and apply laws. But the framers and adopters of
the (Fourtheenth) Amendment were not content to depend... upon the spirit
of equality which might not be insisted on by local public opinion. They
therefore embodied that spirit in a specific guaranty."

HABEUS CORPUS: 

Duncan v. Bradley, No. 01-55290 (9th Circ., 12-24-02)

A state trial court's refusal to instruct the jury on an entrapment defense, in
a second trial on drug sale charges, amounted to prejudicial constitutional
error where evidence presented at a first trial warranted such an instruct. To
read entire text of the opinion, see
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0155290p.pdf 

JUDICIAL IMMUNITY:

See Judicial Immunity page for more citations (links) and news articles regarding
the topic.
See also, 42 USC 1983 - Availability of Equitable Relief Against Judges.

Note: [Copied verbiage; we are not lawyers.] Judges have given themselves
judicial immunity for their judicial functions. Judges have no judicial
immunity for criminal acts, aiding, assisting, or conniving with others who
perform a criminal act or for their administrative/ministerial duties, or for
violating a citizen's constitutional rights. When a judge has a duty to act, he
does not have discretion - he is then not performing a judicial act; he is
performing a ministerial act.
Nowhere was the judiciary given immunity, particularly nowhere in Article
III; under our Constitution, if judges were to have immunity, it could only
possibly be granted by amendment (and even less possibly by legislative act),
as Art. I, Sections 9 & 10, respectively, in fact expressly prohibit such,
stating, "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States" and "No
state shall... grant any Title of Nobility." Most of us are certain that Congress
itself doesn't understand the inherent lack of immunity for judges.
Article III, Sec. 1, "The Judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in
one supreme court, and in such inferior courts, shall hold their offices during
good behavior."
Tort & Insurance Law Journal, Spring 1986 21 n3, p 509-516, "Federal tort
law: judges cannot invoke judicial immunity for acts that violate litigants'
civil rights." - Robert Craig Waters.

Ableman v. Booth, 21 Howard 506 (1859)

"No judicial process, whatever form it may assume, can have any lawful
authority outside of the limits of the jurisdiction of the court or judge by
whom it is issued; and an attempt to enforce it beyond these boundaries is
nothing less than lawless violence."

Chandler v. Judicial Council of the 10th Circuit, 398 U.S. 74, 90 S. Ct. 1648, 26 L. Ed.
2d 100

Justice Douglas, in his dissenting opinion at page 140 said, "If (federal
judges) break the law, they can be prosecuted." Justice Black, in his
dissenting opinion at page 141) said, "Judges, like other people, can be tried,
convicted and punished for crimes... The judicial power shall extend to all
cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution". 

Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1, 78 S. Ct. 1401 (1958)

Note: Any judge who does not comply with his oath to the Constitution of the
United States wars against that Constitution and engages in acts in violation of
the supreme law of the land. The judge is engaged in acts of treason.
The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that "no state legislator or executive or
judicial officer can war against the Constitution without violating his
undertaking to support it". See also In Re Sawyer, 124 U.S. 200 (188); U.S. v.
Will, 449 U.S. 200, 216, 101 S. Ct. 471, 66 L. Ed. 2d 392, 406 (1980); Cohens v.
Virginia, 19 U.S. (6 Wheat) 264, 404, 5 L. Ed 257 (1821).

Cooper v. O'Conner, 99 F.2d 133 

There is a general rule that a ministerial officer who acts wrongfully,
although in good faith, is nevertheless liable in a civil action and cannot claim
the immunity of the sovereign.

Davis v. Burris, 51 Ariz. 220, 75 P.2d 689 (1938)

A judge must be acting within his jurisdiction as to subject matter and
person, to be entitled to immunity from civil action for his acts.

Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. at 227-229, 108 S. Ct. at 544-545 (1987); Westfall
v.Erwin, 108 S. Ct. 580 (1987); United States v. Lanier (March 1997)

Constitutionally and in fact of law and judicial rulings, state-federal
"magistrates-judges" or any government actors, state or federal, may now be
held liable, if they violate any Citizen's Constitutional rights, privileges, or
immunities, or guarantees; including statutory civil rights.
A judge is not immune for tortious acts committed in a purely
Administrative, non-judicial capacity.

Gregory v. Thompson, F.2d 59 (C.A. Ariz. 1974) 

Generally, judges are immune from suit for judicial acts within or in excess
of their jurisdiction even if those acts have been done maliciously or
corruptly; the only exception being for acts done in the clear absence of all
jurisdiction.

Hoffsomer v. Hayes, 92 Okla 32, 227 F. 417

"The courts are not bound by an officer's interpretation of the law under
which he presumes to act." 

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (2 Cranch) 137, 180 (1803)

"... the particular phraseology of the constitution of the United States
confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written
constitutions, that a law repugnant to the constitution is void, and that
courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument."
"In declaring what shall be the supreme law of the land, the Constitution
itself is first mentioned; and not the laws of the United States generally, but
those only which shall be made in pursuance of the Constitution, have that
rank".
"All law (rules and practices) which are repugnant to the Constitution are
VOID".
Since the 14th Amendment to the Constitution states "NO State
(Jurisdiction) shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the rights,
privileges, or immunities of citizens of the United States nor deprive any
citizens of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, ... or equal
protection under the law", this renders judicial immunity unconstitutional.

Piper v. Pearson, 2 Gray 120, cited in Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. 335, 20 L.Ed. 646
(1872)

"Where there is no jurisdiction, there can be no discretion, for discretion is
incident to jurisdiction."

Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S. 522 (1984); 104 S. Ct. 1781, 1980, 1981, and 1985 

In 1996, Congress passed a law to overcome this ruling which stated that
judicial immunity doesn't exist; citizens can sue judges for prospective
injunctive relief.
"Our own experience is fully consistent with the common law's rejection of a
rule of judicial immunity. We never have had a rule of absolute judicial
immunity. At least seven circuits have indicated affirmatively that there is no
immunity... to prevent irreparable injury to a citizen's constitutional
rights..."
"Subsequent interpretations of the Civil Rights Act by this Court
acknowledge Congress' intent to reach unconstitutional actions by all state
and federal actors, including judges... The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits
a state [federal] from denying any person [citizen] within its jurisdiction the
equal protection under the laws. Since a State [or federal] acts only by its
legislative, executive or judicial authorities, the constitutional provisions
must be addressed to those authorities, including state and federal judges..."

"We conclude that judicial immunity is not a bar to relief against a judicial
officer acting in her [his] judicial capacity."

Mireles v. Waco, 112 S. Ct. 286 at 288 (1991)

A judge is not immune for tortious acts committed in a purely
Administrative, non-judicial capacity; however, even in a case involving a
particular attorney not assigned to him, he may reach out into the hallway,
having his deputy use "excessive force" to haul the attorney into the
courtroom for chastisement or even incarceration. A Superior Court Judge is
broadly vested with "general jurisdiction." Provided the judge is not
divested of all jurisdiction, he may have his actions excused as per this poor
finding. 

Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 94 S. Ct. 1683, 1687 (1974) 

Note: By law, a judge is a state officer. The judge then acts not as a judge, but
as a private individual (in his person). When a judge acts as a trespasser of the
law, when a judge does not follow the law, the Judge loses subject-matter
jurisdiction and the judges' orders are not voidable, but VOID, and of no legal
force or effect.
The U.S. Supreme Court stated that "when a state officer acts under a state
law in a manner violative of the Federal Constitution, he comes into conflict
with the superior authority of that Constitution, and he is in that case
stripped of his official or representative character and is subjected in his
person to the consequences of his individual conduct. The State has no power
to impart to him any immunity from responsibility to the supreme authority
of the United States." 

Stump v. Sparkman, id., 435 U.S. 349

Some Defendants urge that any act "of a judicial nature" entitles the Judge
to absolute judicial immunity. But in a jurisdictional vacuum (that is,
absence of all jurisdiction) the second prong necessary to absolute judicial
immunity is missing.
A judge is not immune for tortious acts committed in a purely
Administrative, non-judicial capacity. 

Rankin v. Howard, 633 F.2d 844 (1980)

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an Arizona District Court
dismissal based upon absolute judicial immunity, finding that both necessary
immunity prongs were absent; later, in Ashelman v. Pope, 793 F.2d 1072
(1986), the Ninth Circuit, en banc, criticized the "judicial nature" analysis it
had published in Rankin as unnecessarily restrictive. But Rankin's ultimate

result was not changed, because Judge Howard had been independently
divested of absolute judicial immunity by his complete lack of jurisdiction.

U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co. (State use of), 217 Miss. 576, 64 So. 2d 697

When a judicial officer acts entirely without jurisdiction or without
compliance with jurisdiction requisites he may be held civilly liable for abuse
of process even though his act involved a decision made in good faith, that he
had jurisdiction. 

U.S. v. Lee, 106 U.S. 196, 220 1 S. Ct. 240, 261, 27 L. Ed 171 (1882)

"No man in this country is so high that he is above the law. No officer of the
law may set that law at defiance with impunity. All the officers of the
government, from the highest to the lowest, are creatures of the law and are
bound to obey it."
"It is the only supreme power in our system of government, and every man
who, by accepting office participates in its functions, is only the more
strongly bound to submit to that supremacy, and to observe the limitations
which it imposes on the exercise of the authority which it gives." 

Zeller v. Rankin, 101 S.Ct. 2020, 451 U.S. 939, 68 L.Ed 2d 326

When a judge knows that he lacks jurisdiction, or acts in the face of clearly
valid statutes expressly depriving him of jurisdiction, judicial immunity is
lost. 

JURISDICTION:

NOTE: It is a fact of law that the person asserting jurisdiction must, when
challenged, prove that jurisdiction exists; mere good faith assertions of power
and authority (jurisdiction) have been abolished.

Albrecht v. U.S. Balzac v. People of Puerto Rico, 258 U.S. 298 (1922) 

"The United States District Court is not a true United States Court,
established under Article 3 of the Constitution to administer the judicial
power of the United States therein conveyed. It is created by virtue of the
sovereign congressional faculty, granted under Article 4, 3, of that
instrument, of making all needful rules and regulations respecting the
territory belonging to the United States. The resemblance of its jurisdiction
to that of true United States courts, in offering an opportunity to
nonresidents of resorting to a tribunal not subject to local influence, does not
change its character as a mere territorial court." 

Basso v. UPL, 495 F. 2d 906
Brook v. Yawkey, 200 F. 2d 633
Elliot v. Piersol, 1 Pet. 328, 340, 26 U.S. 328, 340 (1828) 

Under federal Law, which is applicable to all states, the U.S. Supreme Court
stated that "if a court is without authority, its judgments and orders are
regarded as nullities. They are not voidable, but simply void, and form no
bar to a recovery sought, even prior to a reversal in opposition to them. They
constitute no justification and all persons concerned in executing such
judgments or sentences are considered, in law, as trespassers." 

Griffin v. Mathews, 310 Supp. 341, 423 F. 2d 272
Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528
Howlett v. Rose, 496 U.S. 356 (1990) 

Federal Law and Supreme Court Cases apply to State Court Cases.

Louisville & N.R. Co. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149
Mack v. United States, 07-27-97, Justice Antonin Scalia

"The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States
to address particular problems, nor command the States' officers, or those of
their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory
program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case-by-
case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are
fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual
sovereignty."

Mack v. United States, 07-27-97, Justice Antonin Scalia

"Residual state sovereignty was also implicit, of course, in the Constitution's
conferral upon Congress of not all governmental powers, but only discrete
and enumerated ones."

Maine v. Thiboutot, 448 U.S. 1
Mookini v. U.S., 303 U.S. 201 (1938) 

"The term 'District Courts of the United States' as used in the rules without
an addition expressing a wider connotation, has its historic significance. It
describes the constitutional courts created under Article 3 of the
Constitution. Courts of the Territories are Legislative Courts, properly
speaking, and are not district courts of the United States. We have often held
that vesting a territorial court with jurisdiction similar to that vested in the
district courts of the United States (98 U.S. 145) does not make it a 'District
Court of the United States'.
"Not only did the promulgating order use the term District Courts of the

United States in its historic and proper sense, but the omission of provision
for the application of the rules the territorial court and other courts
mentioned in the authorizing act clearly shows the limitation that was
intended."

McNutt v. General Motors, 298 U.S. 178
New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992)

"We have held, however, that state legislatures are not subject to federal
direction." 

Owens v. The City of Independence, 445 U.S. 622, 100 S. Ct. 1398 (1980)
Thomson v. Gaskill, 315 U.S. 442

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: 

United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. I at 16 (1976) 

"It is deeply distressing that the Department of Justice, whose mission is to
protect the constitutional liberties of the people of the United States, should
even appear to be seeking to subvert them by extreme and dubious legal
argument." 

PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY (DEMONSTRATIONS):

Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347; 6 S. Ct. 2673; 49 L. Ed. 2d (1976) 

"Loss of First Amendment Freedoms, for even minimal periods of time,
unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury."

Miller v. U.S., 230 F. 2d. 486, 490; 42 

"There can be no sanction or penalty imposed upon one, because of his
exercise of constitutional rights." 

Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105

"No state shall convert a liberty into a license, and charge a fee therefore." 
 
Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, Alabama, 373 U.S. 262 

"If the State converts a right (liberty) into a privilege, the citizen can ignore the
license and fee and engage in the right (liberty) with impunity."

United States Constitution, First Amendment

Right to Petition; Freedom of Association. 

PROBABLE CAUSE: 

Brinegar v. U.S., 388 US 160 (1949)

Probable Cause to Arrest - Provides details on how to determine if a crime has
been or is being committed.

Carroll v. U.S., 267 US 132 (1925)

Probable Cause to Search - Provides details on the belief that seizable property
exists in a particular place or on a particular person.

Draper v. U.S. (1959)

Probable cause is where known facts and circumstances, of a reasonably
trustworthy nature, are sufficient to justify a man of reasonable caution in the
belief that a crime has been or is being committed. Reasonable man definition;
common textbook definition; comes from this case.

PRO SE RIGHTS:

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, 89 S. Ct. 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) 

"The practice of law is an occupation of common right."

Nowhere can be found a competent attorney that is able to execute the proper
remedy without embarrassing the Court, Corpus Juris Secundum 2d Vol. 7
section 25.
Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25 that, “No accused may be deprived of, his
liberty as the result of any criminal prosecution, whether felony or
misdemeanor, in which he was denied assistance of counsel.”
At the present time, Bar Attorneys (Public Vessels) are not Assistance of
Counsel and defense is severely limited by being represented by an attorney
since the Texas Code of Professional Conduct permits a defendant to have only
four choices of input in his defense, 1) what plea to enter, 2) whether to testify,
3) whether to appeal, and 4) whether to opt for a jury trial.



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