Represent Yourself In Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case

By in Courts on June 16, 2013

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Prepare and present a winning civil court case!

Written in plain English, Represent Yourself in Court breaks down the trial process into easy-to-understand steps so that you can act as your own lawyer — safely and efficiently. Find out what to say, how to say it, even where to stand when you address the judge and jury.

Armed with these simple but thorough instructions, you’ll be well prepared to achieve good results, without the cost of an attorney. Find out how to:

*file court papers

*handle depositions and interrogatories

*comply with courtroom procedures

*pick a jury

*prepare your evidence and line up witnesses

*present your opening statement and closing argument

*cross-examine hostile witnesses

*understand and apply rules of evidence

*locate, hire and effectively use expert witnesses

*make and respond to your opponent’s objections

*get limited help from an attorney as needed

*monitor the work of an attorney if you decide to hire one

Whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant, this book will help you confidently handle a divorce, personal injury case, landlord/tenant dispute, breach of contract, small business dispute or any other civil lawsuit.

The 5th edition is completely updated to include the latest rules and court procedures, and more sample documents to help guide you through your case.

Table of Contents

1. Going It Alone in Court

2. The Courthouse and the Courtroom

3. Starting Your Case

4. Pretrial Procedures

5. Investigating Your Case

6. Settlement

7. Pretrial Motions

8. Proving Your Case at Trial: The Plaintiff’s Perspective

9. Proving Your Case at Trial: The Defendant’s Perspective

10. Selecting the Decision Maker

11. Opening Statement

12. Direct Examination

13. Cross-Examination

14. Closing Argument

15. Exhibits

16. Basic Rules of Evidence

17. Making and Responding to Objections

18. Organizing a Trial Notebook

19. Expert Witnesses

20. When Your Trial Ends: Judgments and Appeals

21. Representing Yourself in Divorce Court

22. Representing Yourself in Bankruptcy Court

23. Getting Help From an Attorney: Hiring a Legal Coach



2 thoughts on “Represent Yourself In Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case

  1. Mohamed F. El-Hewie "Mohamed F. El-Hewie"
    25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    The best friend for pro se litigants in the strange land of law., July 13, 2006
    Mohamed F. El-Hewie “Mohamed F. El-Hewie” (Hackensack, NJ USA) –

    This review is from: Represent Yourself In Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case (Paperback)

    This is one of the best books I have read and enjoyed about pro se litigation. The large font, great white space, and properly displayed summary tables render the book easy to endure and utilize. The authors offer many proverbs and examples for lay people that alleviate the harshness of legal lingo. Moreover, they even translate the formal and non-technical English words into layman’s language. For example, words such as “sanction, impeach, strike, motion, cross, re-cross, direct, and re-direct” are simplified to common readers to mean “punish, discredit, delete, request, and questioning of witnesses in different setting”.

    The authors realize the hardship of hiring a good and trustworthy lawyer and assist the readers in understanding their rights for self-representation. Not only you will learn how not to be a fool pro se, but also how to expose the foolishness of ill-prepared lawyers and how to feel home among busy birds of a feather different from yours.

    The book dissects the court room like an anatomy specimen and shows the reader where everyone belongs. (In one of the traffic violation I attended, a defendant brought his 5-year old son to the courtroom, was not able to control his running between the judge’s legs and messing up stacks of papers on the reporter’s desk.) This book will familiarize you with the territory such that you will avoid acting childishly. Aside from running between the judge’s legs, the pro se will learn how to seek permission to approach a witness, to admit exhibits, to strike evidence, and so on.

    The paper work phase is explained in great details to remove the anxiety of the long and contentious process that follows. It offers assurance that anxiety and fear are natural reaction to performing on a stage of adversarial nature. Actors, teachers, lawyers go through what a pro se litigant goes through in laboring to defend his or her arguments. It offers forms for different filing purposes, describes exhibits and trial notebook, and explains how to respond to and make objections.

    The trial dissection is also magnificent in describing in details the phases of paper work filing, subject and personal jurisdiction, statute of limitation, and the development of the trial process from filling answers, motions, pretrial material, discovery, and evidentiary issue.

    The trial process is well described as well to entail opening statement, direct and cross examination, closing statement. It is preceded with extensive elaboration on how settlement, aberration, and mediation most of times cut the process short of a trial.

    The elaborate description of informal and formal discovery process is very helpful to pro se litigants since it saves the exuberant amount of money spent on lawyers to gather documents, depose witness, and disclose evidence. The thorough details of the techniques of discovery are presented in bulleted subsections, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

    The book extends it discussion to post-trail phases of appeals and judgment. It then delves into specialized areas such as divorce and bankruptcy. The coherence of the book topics serves the readers a great deal in enabling pro se to focus on pertinent legal claims, their elements, the facts that address each element, and the evidence required to prove the facts.

    Three trivial problems are noticeable. One, pages are numbered according to chapters which forces the reader to remember two instead of one number when trying to memorize latest page read. Two, referencing to legal coach is excessively used while the book is intended to self-represented parties. Three, excessive branching of references for further reading are everywhere despite the good 24 healthy chapters of the book.

    Mohamed F. El-Hewie
    Author of
    Essentials of Weightlifting and Strength Training

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  2. Justin Nuther Reviewer
    9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Incredible resource!, February 19, 2008

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Represent Yourself In Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case (Paperback)

    I decided to represent myself as a pro se litigant, and turned to this book since it got such good reviews.

    I was NOT disappointed. It does a great job chronologically illustrating common judicial patterns, and it will even give you a spectrum of scenarios in case your court system operates a bit differently. There are example dialogs and mock situations to help you understand what to do in certain situations.

    Believe it or not, I didn’t need the book in the end. There is a statistic that is published in the book pointing out that over 90% of people who go into court usually settle before an actual trial. Because of this statistic, I mentioned it to the Plantiff’s attorney and was surprised to hear, “well, then, make us an offer!”

    Had I not had the chance to settle out of court, I would have been very prepared to represent myself.

    There were a couple of weak spots in the book, but they were of my own wanting to have more information. One of those areas that the book needs to get up to speed on is electronic documents, such as dealing with e-mails, and techniques in proving that e-mails are legitimate.

    I’d also like to mention for those of you who are looking for Child Support help, this is not a good book for that. It has a tiny section on Child Support, then leaves you hanging. This may be because laws vary so much, but I thought I’d at least point it out. The book is more for general concepts, so the info falls short once you begin specializing in certain subject matters.

    Whatever your case is about, I can’t emphasize enough for you to take a morning off from work to go watch some cases in court. You’ll eliminate some fear of the unknown, you’ll start to see that attorneys go through a similar set of procedures that you are just as capable of performing yourself, and you’ll get a feel for how to talk to the judge and those who might be in the same room as you.

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