Pro Se Self-Help, or Assisting Others as a Non-Lawyer – things to know

     The term “pro se” is an abbreviated form of the Latin term propria persona, which translates “on behalf of themselves.”  To advocate “pro se” means to advocate on one’s own behalf before a court rather than being represented by a lawyer, which may be done while acting as the plaintiff or defendant in a civil case or as a defendant in a criminal case[1]

   Every Federal District Courthouse has a Pro Se Litigation self-help section to help you file within that district.  This is not for County or State Courts — we are speaking of Federal Courts:

Get to Know the Federal Courts

     To find your local Federal District Courthouse, use the

Federal Courthouse Locator

    Once you’ve located your local District courthouse, find the pro se self-help section for your local district.  Here are just a few from various courthouses:

Northern District of California:

District of North Dakota:

Iowa Judicial Branch:

U.S. Court of Federal Claims:

     What you will find within most pro se self-help sections is that the courts recommend Black’s Law Dictionary or Ballantine’s Law Dictionary.  Therefore, those are the dictionaries we used to build this website:

Law Dictionaries
Utilized to Help Build This Website

      Although rigorous study is important prior to entering into a court and attempting to present on behalf of your own case, there are Supreme Court Rulings that work in favor of pro se litigants, such as:

Haines v. Kerner, 404 U. S. 519 (1972) (per curiam):

     “Whatever may be the limits on the scope of inquiry of courts into the internal administration… allegations such as those asserted by petitioner, however inartfully pleaded, are sufficient to call for the opportunity to offer supporting evidence… under the allegations of the pro se complaint [are held] to ‘less stringent standards’ than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.

Baldwin County Welcome Center v. Brown, 466 U. S. 147 (1984) (per curiam):

     “Pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice.  We frequently have stated that pro se pleadings are to be given a liberal construction.” [2]

Things Worth Reading About:

     A person skilled in the art of pro se litigation could present a case on behalf of another while not being a licensed lawyer so long as they were open and up front with the person they are assisting; though it would be audacious to assume you’ve “got the case in the bag” (don’t over-promise or assume), one could technically file as a Good Samaritan Action (both parties agreeing by contract would be wise):

Good Samaritan Action – brought by a person or group for the benefit of all or part of a community; often immunizes those acting in good faith from liability.

     Perhaps you witnessed someone else having their rights violated and you want to help: here United States Code is a worth knowing about:

Title 42 § 1986 – Action for Neglect to Prevent – states that “every citizen who having knowledge that any of the wrongs conspired to be done, and mentioned within 42 § 1985 – Conspiracy to Interfere with Civil Rights are about to be committed and having power to prevent or aid in preventing the commission of the same, neglects or refuses to do so, shall be liable to the party injured or party’s legal representatives, for all damages caused by such wrongful act, which such party by reasonable diligence could have prevented, and any number of citizens guilty of such wrongful neglect or refusal may be joined as defendants in the action.

Time to Get The Facts:

     First thing’s first:

How to File Records Requests
with Agencies and Organizations to
Gather Information About the Case


Coming Soon:

    Another section of law we’re currently researching to find if its applicable for non-lawyers to be able to act in accordance with is the Private Attorney General Act.  We’ve begun to compile this information int he following link:

Private Attorney General – enables private attorneys who bring lawsuits in the public interest to collect attorney’s fees.

MLK what good men must do


[1]: Madelynn Herman (September 25, 2006). “Self-Representation: Pro Se Statistics”. National Center for State Courts. Archived from the original on 2012-05-04.

[2]: All cases cited using the Supreme Court of The United States’ “Case Citation Finder”


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Notice: Wild Willpower does not condone the actions of Maximilian Robespierre, however the above quote is excellent!

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1. Hist. An instigator of a lawsuit or prosecution.

2. Someone who was chosen to inquire into abuses, especially those relating to weights and measures.

3. A churchwarden; SIDEMAN. — aka questmonger.

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