Department of Injustice is more like it…
Pennsylvania Court Watch has posted a literally unbelievable letter(shown above)–on what is apparently letterhead from the United States Department of Justice–to a California man, telling him the following:
“…when you chose to represent yourself, you waived your right to due process, including any access to the courts. Further, a decision to go pro per results in losing your rights to investigators, law libraries, the hiring of experts and other resources that is [sic] available to a civil attorney.”
However, this is completely farcical, patently false and absurd, absolutely incorrect, and has never been true at any time. The website of California courts tells its citizenry the complete opposite of the information contained in the letter in question:
There are several reasons why people represent themselves without a lawyer:
- In criminal cases, if you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer for you, like a public defender. But in civil cases, you do not have the right to a court-appointed lawyer so, if you cannot afford your own lawyer, you have to represent yourself.
- Some people choose to represent themselves even if they could pay a lawyer because they feel they can handle the case on their own.
- In small claims cases, you are not allowed to have a lawyer, so everyone in small claims court is representing himself or herself.
Whatever the reason, you have the right to represent yourself, to be your own lawyer in all cases in California. But just because you can represent yourself does not mean you should. It is very important that you learn about what is at stake in your case, and what you will be expected to do and know in order to handle it on your own.
It’s been clear for a very long time that courts cast a jaundiced eye on pro se/pro per litigants, but this is beyond the pale. Did we miss a Supreme Court decision like the recent ones which said police don’t have to have a warrant to search your property and that police can be ignorant of the law?