Self-representation has a long, venerable history dating to biblical times and continuing through the common law, the colonial era, to the present. This book collects and analyzes the law, ethics opinions, and empirical studies about the wide range of issues surrounding Self-represented litigants (SRLs) in our justice system, including how much, if any, assistance should a judge provide, what duties do lawyers interacting with SRLs, and many others. Using recent empirical studies from both Civil litigation and criminal defense, Jona Goldschmidt argues that SRLs’ cases cannot be fairly heard without a mandatory judicial duty of reasonable assistance. In order to maintain public trust and confidence in our justice system, self-represented parties must be guided and assisted. Courts and the legal profession should continue to adapt and meet the challenge of managing and interacting with those who choose or are compelled to self-represent. Only when self-represented litigants are embraced by the courts, they will finally receive “equal justice under law.” This book would be of interest to those studying criminal justice and legal studies, specifically legal history and legal ethics, as well as judges, lawyers and other professionals in the field.
Jona Goldschmidt is professor emeritus in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Loyola University Chicago.
Chapter 1: Self-Representation: For Better or for Worse
Chapter 2: The Right to Self-Representation
Chapter 3: Judicial Assistance
Chapter 4: Judicial Ethics
Chapter 5: Legal Ethics
Chapter 6: Civil Litigation
Chapter 7: Criminal Procedure and Appeals
Chapter 8: Empirical Studies
Goldschmidt is a leading authority in the area of self-representing litigants. No other scholar has written so extensively on SRLs, with such depth and breadth. His new book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the current plight of civil justice systems in common law jurisdictions. Not only does it expose with remarkable details the challenges faced by SRLs, but it also offers detailed guidelines on how the civil justice system can better deliver on its promise for equal justice.