More People in Georgia Representing Themselves in Court

More people than ever are taking on the role of being their own attorney in their court cases. The economic problems of the last few years are one cause; many middle class people don't make enough to be able to afford an attorney, but make too much to qualify for legal assistance.

The Gainesville Journal Constitution reports the courts are witnessing an increase in the number of self-represented litigants. While the parties see it as a way of saving the cost of a lawyer, it doesn't come without a cost for the courts. Clerks of Court are finding they have to spend additional time helping these parties with the filing of their cases. The clerks have to be diligent and avoid 'practicing law' as they provide information to these parties.

Slower in the Courtroom

Judges are also finding these cases to be more time-consuming, as the self-represented litigants are unfamiliar with basic elements of courtroom practice, like the rules of civil procedure and the rules of evidence.

They may not fully understand how to have evidence admitted and how to make proper motions. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane noted in the article, "It is difficult to mete out justice when there are two people not providing an orderly presentation, but trying to get their barbs in. Cross-examination is reduced to 'No, I didn't,' and 'Yes, I did.' "

The trend is probably going to continue upward, as Cobb County has made it easier for lawyers to unbundle their services, meaning they can advise a client on part of a lawsuit. This makes legal counsel more affordable, and should allow clients can obtain the legal guidance they need to permit them to prosecute successfully their case.

Supreme Court May Consider Broadening Rule to State-Wide

Lawyers and courts from around the state are watching to see how the test program with the rule works in Cobb County. The Georgia Supreme Court could allow the experimental rule to continue in Cobb County or possibility even expanded to the state as a whole.

Limited representation is not for everyone, and if you are considering it, you should still consult an attorney to determine if your case is straightforward enough to allow you to achieve your desired result. You won't save any money if you attempt to try your case on your own, make mistakes, and then have to hire an attorney to repair the damage you may have done. When speaking with an attorney, ask as many questions as necessary to allow you to understand your legal issues and the exact limits of the limited representation.