Individuals who represent themselves in court are referred to as Pro Per Litigants.
You may decide to represent yourself in court and not to hire an attorney. A large percentage of individuals represent themselves in Arizona courts without the assistance of an attorney. The decision to handle legal matters by yourself can be influenced by many issues such as your ability to find free or low cost legal assistance, the type of legal matter, the Court that has jurisdiction of the legal matter and whether you are initiating the legal action or responding to it.
As a Pro Per Litigant you are expected to:
- Invest time and resources to prepare your case
- Determine the correct court for your case
- Use the correct court forms
- Use the correct spelling of the names of the parties
- Educate yourself and follow the laws and rules that apply to your case
- Comply with court deadlines and procedures
- Understand your rights and responsibilities under the law
- Present information in an organized and concise manner
- Follow the case to conclusion
If these expectations present a challenge for you, we recommend you research the resources available to you at Court Self Help Centers, Court Websites, Pro Per Litigant Guides, Law Libraries, Legal Glossaries and brief advice sessions provided by Community Legal Services or our community partners.
As a Pro Per, you must make sure you understand that laws that control your case and the court rules concerning how to present your case.
Laws in Arizona are called the Arizona Revised Statutes and you can review them online or at the public library.
Depending on the type of case and the type of court that must hear your case, different rules apply.
- Family law has special rules and they can be found online.
- If you have a civil case in Superior Court which does not involve family law, the rules for your case can be found here. In addition, your county may have additional local rules. You can find these rules by looking on the Superior Court website for you county.
- Evictions have special rules that can be found here.
- Justice Courts also have special rules which can be found here.
- There are also various other special rules and procedures for different types of cases you can find online.
The courtroom experience can be new and intimidating for some pro per litigants. Many hearings are open to the public and attending a similar hearing with the judge assigned to your case can provide you with a greater understanding of the process. Other examples of Community Legal Services pro per programs where these issues are addressed in a courtroom setting include:
- The Family Lawyers Assistance Program (FLAP) in Maricopa County provides Litigants Without Lawyers
- The Volunteer Lawyers Program in Maricopa County provides The Friends of the Court, Reaffirmation in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy program
- The Yavapai County office of Community Legal Services provides the Yavapai County Family Law Ombudsman program