Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Could you represent yourself?

Let me explain something.  If you find yourself in legal trouble or you're involved in a lawsuit of some kind, do your research before you hire a lawyer.  Don't just hire the first retard that comes knocking.  In fact, if they're advertising, chances are they need your business.  If they need your business, what does that say about them?  If you find yourself in legal trouble in Hawai'i...well...I don't know what to tell you.  You're probably not going to find a quality lawyer.  You might get lucky, but you're probably screwed.  Or maybe you find some good lawyers but, since they're the only good ones around, they charge more than you can afford.  I can honestly say you might just be better off representing yourself IF (and ONLY IF) you are not an idiot.  What do I mean by that?

First, can you spell correctly?  For example, can you correctly use there, they're, and their or your and you're?  If not, then writing motions is going to prove difficult for you and you're probably too dumb to represent yourself.  Second, can you write in complete sentences?  This means using correct grammar with clear thoughts.  Finally, can you understand that when you make a legal argument, you must support that argument with (1) evidence and (2) case law?  You can't just say, "that crazy bitch is a liar."  Case law is the collection of cases that have already been decided that have facts similar to the facts of your dispute.  You can research case law for free at any local law school library or courthouse library.

We see a lot of pro se litigants (people representing themselves) in Hawaii.  For whatever reason, they choose to forego a lawyer.  So instead, they represent themselves and write 35 page briefs that fail to cite a single case.  Sometimes they'll cite cases but fail to argue what that case has to do with their case.  I hate to say it, but pro se litigants almost always lose when they face a lawyer.  Why?  Because even though the lawyer is bad, the lawyer often knows to cite cases and make a reasonably intelligent argument.  A persuasive legal argument is different than saying, "Joe didn't live up to the contract."  So, consider how smart you really are before you decide to represent yourself.  Consider how smart your lawyer is before you hand him or her a check.  And for the love of God, proofread your shit before you turn it in.

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