I have found that not only do pro ses get poor attention or respect from the bench DURING litigation, despite constitutional rights, despite good pleadings, despite trying like hell to conform to the rules, but he (or she) gets even less respect and attention from opposing parties when trying to resolve a problem, if you’re not an attorney.
By this I mean that if you, a pro se, an unrepresented person, write to a party explaining a problem, and politely ask for an answer, you may be ignored, or otherwise written off as being no threat. ESPECIALLY if you have a case.
I have a couple of examples on my plate right now.
When I produced “Shakespeare For My Father” for Broadway, I hired a team of first rate line producers to take care of things, because I was busy directing the piece, editing what was not working, and anyway lived on the West Coast. They were Elizabeth Ireland McCann, Roy Gabay, and Brent Peek, top people in their company manager professions, and all members of ATPAM, (Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers).
They did a good job for me. I can recommend them.
But, after the show closed, they were supposed to take care of the return of my union deposits, with Actors Equity and ATPAM.
Equity was fine, but mysteriously, ATPAM’s never showed up on the books.
I called ATPAM, who assured me that the deposit, amounting to $6,000 had been returned, according to their records. The gentleman I dealt with was their secretary, had not returned to me my security deposit after the show closed, which amounted to $6,000. I called to ask them where it was, and they claimed to have sent it as a check to one of my line producers in their name. I called them. They refused to confirm or deny. ATPAM also refuses to cooperate, or produce their cancelled check so I can see who it was made out to, and who endorsed it on the back.
I am left with the choice of forgetting about it, or suing them. Because certainly no lawyer will want to work for me for such a paltry sum of money.
Another example is that I find I no longer have title to my Co-op apartment at the Osborne on 57th Street, the prime center of Manhattan. I wrote to the Board, and called their attorney, who promised to send me a copy of the transfer Deed. I suspect that my ex-wife forged my signature. But they have not sent me a copy, despite their promise.
So again, I am left with the choice of forgetting about it, or suing them, and demanding the document through discovery.
So, what I am saying is that all you pro ses out there should take heart, and let THEM know if we are ignored, we are perfectly happy to sue.
When you file a complaint, an answer is required in 30 days, as a rule (check your state). And if they don’t answer, you will win by default.
And since their answer will probably be written by their attorney, at THEIR expense, it will put people on notice that Pro Ses demand respect. You owe it to yourself.
So this is the battle cry. Don’t be afraid to sue. Attorneys set up this sorry state of affairs in this country. So, LEARN how to write a decent looking Complaint, there are rules to follow. There are any number of pro se sites that will help you do this.
Let’s change the legal landscape a bit.