pro se potential leads court to invoke laches doctrine


[in pre-launch status, as we search for a shlep team — can you contribute?]

The Coalition for Public Awareness, in Jersey County, Illinois, filed a lawsuit earlier this year to stop collection of taxes that would have residents pay back bonds issued in 2003 and 2004, to finance the building of two public schools. The Coalition argued that the bonds were issued illegally, because the majority of voters voted against building the new schools. (The Telegraph [Alton, IL], “Suit against Jersey schools dismissed,” Sept. 22, 2006)

According to The Telegraph article, on Sept. 21, 2006, “Judge Lois Bell of Scott County ruled that because the new Jersey Community High School and Grafton Elementary School have been built, and because a single person could have filed a (pro se) complaint sooner, that the Doctrine of Laches barred the suit.”

Under the doctrine of laches: “a legal right or claim will not be enforced or allowed if a long delay in asserting the right or claim has prejudiced the adverse party (hurt the opponent) as a sort of ‘legal ambush’.” legal dictionary)

stopwatch It seem fairly clear to this observer that laches would have been applied to dismiss this lawsuit, even if there were no pro se right, and individuals or a group could only have brought this case by retaining a lawyer. Once the buildings were constructed, someone was going to have to pay for them.

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