The Problems with Choosing to Represent Yourself in Union County NJ Courts
Linden Attorney Advising Clients in Rahway, Clark, Roselle Park, Garwood, Elizabeth, Cranford, Edison and across New Jersey
Many people who are considering self-representation in a court proceeding may wonder how the court will view them and how they will be treated by the judge. The answer is that the court will view you and treat you just like any other licensed attorney, and therein lays the problem. You will be expected to file all proper paperwork and follow all court etiquette and procedures.
It is always inadvisable to ever consider representing yourself in a criminal trial, family court or high-value civil trial. Often, people view self-representation as a way of cutting cost and saving money. However, there are several very important facts that one should consider before considering representing yourself in court. A licensed attorney has spent years of study in order to learn the intricacies of the law and understand court custom, etiquette, and procedures. Any ‘crash course’ in the law will never equal this level of knowledge and understanding.
Things to consider before trying representing yourself in court
There is a myriad of reasons why you should not represent yourself in court. However, here are some important facts you should take into account:
Court cases are often very complicated
The more complicated your case is, the more difficulties you are likely to face if you represent yourself in court. However, it is difficult to know how complicated your case is going to be. Even cases that may seem simple on the surface can give rise to some very intricate and confusing legal issues. Furthermore, things can change in an instant. Cases can become more complicated as more issues arise through witness testimony and as evidence is presented. Moreover, witnesses, parties, and attorneys can be uncooperative, stubborn, or even hostile.
The Subject Matter of your case can make it even more difficult
It is very common for cases to involve technical, scientific, or otherwise complex subject matter? Understanding the relevant legal standards as well as the necessary scientific and technical concepts to prove your case is necessary for you to prevail in court. In addition, you will need access to the proper experts who are willing to testify on your behalf. This is especially true in cases of product liability, professional negligence (doctors, attorneys, architects, engineers), and intellectual property (trademarks, patents, copyrights). Moreover, failure to follow court procedures may cause the court to ignore scientific evidence that you may want to present.
- Your opponents will probably have legal representation
The number of parties involved in the lawsuit and whether they businesses, individuals, government entities, non-profits, or some combination are all critical issues in understanding how your case will play out. The more parties are involved, the more complicated the case will be. This is due to the fact that each party has the right to conduct discovery, file and oppose motions, and represent its interests at trial. Furthermore, the larger the entity the more able they will to fund their legal fees and mount a strong opposition, and in some cases, draw out the case for years and greatly increase your costs.
In actions against a government entity or official, there are special rules and restrictions including sovereign immunity. The court will expect you know the rules in your jurisdiction and you will be expected to comply with these stringent requirements.
Venue (State vs. Federal Court)
Where your lawsuit or criminal action is filed will have a profound impact on your case. Generally speaking, actions in federal court tend to involve more procedural requirements and disclosures and to be stricter with enforcing court rules and deadlines. Due to the large caseloads in both state and federal court, judges will be unlikely to be patient and ‘baby you along’ in the process.
If I choose to represent myself in court can I hire a lawyer to help me only when I need it?
Though inadvisable, if you choose to represent yourself in court, you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer for some form of consultation. It is possible to hire a lawyer to act as a consultant, explaining what needs to be done and offering advice on strategy and tactics. Finding a lawyer who is experienced in the type of issues involved in your lawsuit can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls faced by most in self-representation.
Contact an Experienced Union County Attorney and Do Not Gamble With Your Future
As such, it is critical that you retain an experienced and effective Linden, NJ attorney to help protect your rights, future, both financially and legally.
To schedule a confidential consultation with our office today regarding whatever case you are up against, please contact us online or through our Linden office at (908) 481-4625.