Pro se AnswerNovember 30, 2010 # 5:26 pm # General Info # No Comment
How to file Pro se Answer? The first time I had to look for this answer, I was bothering people, researching the internet, visiting legal aids and things I don’t want to remember again. There wasn’t much awareness regarding the processes to be dealt by a pro se litigant. Recently a lot of aspects have changed and new processes have been in place to make a Pro se litigant’s legal journeying a bit better. By the end of this article, I hope you have enough information to begin with the first step of any litigation.
In a civil litigation, whenever anyone files a lawsuit against you, you are served with Complaint and Summons indicating you are sued and you can defend yourself. The party initiating the lawsuit by filing the complaint is called the Plaintiff/Petitioner and the other party is called the Defendant/Respondent.
So, you are summoned to answer to the lawsuit on or before the date as indicated on the Summons. Now what? Well there are options and you can choose the most appropriate one. You can hire an attorney and the attorney can file in the Court your response and also that he/she is going to represent you in this litigation. Or you can try legal aid, such details should be available at your local court. Or, this is what I did to defend my self, file Pro se representation and then file Answer. You would get enough help on other options, so let’s talk about Pro se or self representation.
Weigh all the pros and cons properly. Think carefully before making a decision. Self representation is a sensible decision for not too complicated cases and most practical decision to save money and trust me lots and lots of money. Every court would have a Pro se Representation form. The form requires you to specify your name, contact details, case number and finally your sign and date. Filing this form with respect to your case is an indication that you want to be a pro se litigant in this litigation and that you will defend yourself henceforth. So you have clarified your representation and now comes the defending part.
You need to file an Answer or in your case Pro se Answer before the date as indicated on the Summons. The response to the Complaint is by a Defendant/Respondent is called the Answer. The answer consists of written responses and defenses to all or part of the allegations in the Complaint. So you are expected to admit or deny each of the allegations in the complaint within the time limit. Some courts also have a general denial to all allegations form when the defendant/respondent wants to deny everything in the Complaint. In most cases you are provided 21days to Answer the Complaint, which sometimes are not enough. As a Pro se you might be digging around for all possible help available to reach the most beneficial decision. In that case, you should file your Pro se or Self Representation form and also file a motion for extension of time. In the motion you can request for more days and so to extend the date by which you have to respond.
Not responding to the Summons and Complaint would give an indication that you admit all allegations and hence don’t want to defend yourself, so the Judge can issue a Default Judgment against you! Definitely not a good situation to be in. And especially not good, just because you are not aware of legalities. Remember Plaintiff has the burden of proof and there is a great possibility that the judgment at the end of litigation is less severe compared to the default judgment, or rather I should say the judgment will be at least a fair one.
You can get all applicable forms and information with the clerk of the court or your local court website. Good Luck!