how appealing is pro se litigation?


[we’re still in pre-launch status, as we search for a shlep team

When it comes to appellate courts, the stereotypical self-represented litigant has always been a prisoner, toiling away in the penitentiary library, with the assistance of the on-site jailhouse lawyer. 

jailBirdN   That image may soon be changing, as more and more of the un-incarcerated join the ranks of pro se appellant litigants, and more and more states (in self-defense and in service to the public) offer guidance for appellants and appellees without lawyers. For example, see the recent e-brochure posted by the Nebraska courts: A Citizen’s Guide to Nebraska’s Appellate Courts (March 2006, 10 pp pdf) (via 

Several other states have produced extensive materials to help the self-represented navigate the appellate process.  Here are a few examples, compiled from the Library of SelfHelpSupport (please let us know of similar guides for this  list): 

Wisconsin: Filing an Appeal: A Citizen’s Guide (rev’d Jan. 2006, 38 pp. pdf)

See Edwards v. Emperor’s Garden Rest, 122 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 28  (March 30, 2006), discussed in the Las Vegas Review Journal, for a recent example of a successful pro se appellant.

quoteMarksLSN  We wonder whether Howard Bashman of How Appealing has been feeling the pinch yet, with all this self-help guidance available to the public.  More important, we wonder what Howard thinks of the quality of the guidance available for those who need or want to go pro se in an appellant matter.


  1. Scott McMillan

    September 8, 2006 @ 11:50 am


    Glad to see the launch of this site. As legal services become increasingly out of the reach of anyone earning a middle class income or less, the public out of necessity will begin undertaking their own representation. In California family courts, the majority of litigants are presently unrepresented. Theoretically, for common disputes, there are no reasons why a lawyer should be a necessity in our system for a person with a high school literacy level. Where a commonly used process is inordinately complex, the courts should simplify or standardize the process. The rule of law and access to justice has a legitimizing and inclusive effect on our governmental bodies. Without that access, division in our society is bound to occur, and on its heels disruption will follow.

  2. david giacalone

    November 11, 2006 @ 10:53 am


    For more advice from Howard Bashman, see Ten Tips for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy, his On Appeal column, dated Nov. 13, 2006.

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