I Would Never Recommend a Litigant Go Pro Se, But…

It’s rare to see a pro se litigant win, especially at the appellate level, but this Mother most certainly did. This is definitely worth watching. For some reason only the audio recorded, so I’ve included a pleasant picture of the Third DCA for you to look at. 

Court: Florida Third District Court of Appeal

Judges: Rothenberg, Salter, Schwartz

Attorneys: Kevin Colbert for the Father TR; Joseph Albury for Father JD; the Mother DC (pro se); Karla Perkins for DCF; Hillary Kambour for the GAL Program.

Issues: the extent to which a prior denied TPR is res judicata in a later filed petition for TPR; whether evidence of abandonment can per se fulfill the requirement that the TPR is in the manifest best interests of the child; whether there was sufficient evidence to support a TPR for abandonment; whether there was sufficient evidence to support the mother’s TPR for failing to comply with her case plan

Quotes: “He should have picked up the phone and called his son.” -Judge Rothenberg; “This is a TPR. You have to have a parent who has done something wrong.” -Judge Schwartz.

Prediction: Affirm both fathers’ TPRs and reverse the mother’s; however, if the court decides to consider the requirements for one-parent TPRs, then the fathers TPRs should be reversed as well.


4 responses to “I Would Never Recommend a Litigant Go Pro Se, But…”

  1. Hi, Robert –

    Thank you for posting this success story. I would add, however, that there are many success stories involving self-represented litigants than people know. It just doesn’t receive the same kind of attention. In fact, I have the printed version of a story from a major Washington DC newspaper in which a self-litigant gained an acquittal in a MURDER case …. TWICE …. and all by himself.

    While attorneys are preferable when a self-litigant does not have the time, energy, intellect, and/or courage to do their own litigation, with the lack of meaningful accountability and proper enforcement of lawyer misconduct, the number of stories of litigants that would have done better on their own is high and climbing.

    Anyway, thank you for this wonderful post!

  2. […] As predicted, the fathers’ TPRs were affirmed and the pro se mother’s TPR was reversed.  (There was no mention of one-parent TPR findings or why the fathers’ rights needed to be terminated if the mother’s weren’t.)  The seemingly strict application of collateral estoppel in the case doesn’t sit well with me, but that’s for another post. […]

  3. A members only group was created on LinkedIn for pro se litigants to provide support for one another, and gain strength in numbers so we can create changes in our justice system that is so heavily weighted in favor of the rich and powerful. If you are or were a pro se litigant, please join the group and share your experience.
    Members Only LinkedIn Group for Pro Se Litigants:

  4. This is a great post, Robert – thanks.

    With all the legal aid cuts, this is a great story. It’s a shame there’re not more startups focusing on making litigation and ADR more accessible to everyone – http://virtualcourthouse.blogspot.com/2012/03/71-are-startups-increasing-access-to.html

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