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General Information for Bringing a Case on Your Own (Pro Se)
If you wish to start a civil action in federal court, but do not have an attorney to represent you, you may bring your case on your own. Bringing a case on your own is called proceeding "pro se." A civil action is the only type of case you can start in federal court and is different from a criminal action which is started by government officials. You do not have the right to an attorney in a civil case and the Court only appoints attorneys in certain circumstances. Because you do not have the right to an attorney and may not be appointed one, you must be ready to pursue your case to completion.
The Self Help Tools contains information to help you if you decide to proceed pro se. This section contains forms, frequently asked questions, and links to other internet sites. There is also information where you may be able to get legal help. The Court and its employees, however, cannot give you legal help or advice. If you file a case pro se, you will have to follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and this Court's Local Rules the same as any attorney who represents someone.
Here is a description of the information contained in Self Help Tools:
Frequently Asked Questions and Helpful Legal Terms For Filing A Complaint on Your Own Behalf. This booklet has common questions asked by people who start a case pro se. It is a good place to start if you are thinking about bringing a case. You can also get a copy of this booklet from the Clerks Office. The booklet also lists meanings of legal words you will hear used by the Clerks Office and Court.
Forms - under Pro Se, this section has forms and instructions for filing several different types of cases on your own. It also has other form motions and documents you may need to file your case or appeal. You should look at these forms before you file your case as there may be forms and instructions you can use.
Links - this section contains links to other internet web sites that could be helpful to you. Included in this section are links to sites where you can find information about attorneys, legal aid organizations, federal and local rules, federal courts, outside agencies, pro se sites, and legal research.
Disclaimer: Self Help Tools is not intended to take the place of an attorney's legal advice. It also may not contain information that addresses your particular case or problem