This section provides information to individuals who are representing themselves in the Eastern District of Texas without the assistance of an attorney. This website is intended as an informative and practical resource for these litigants and is not a substitute for legal advice from an experienced attorney. The information is procedural in nature and should be read in conjunction with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules of this Court.
When you are without an attorney, you are proceeding "pro se." If you represent yourself in Court, you are called a "pro se litigant" or a "self-represented litigant." "Pro se" is a Latin term, meaning "on one's own behalf", and a "litigant" is someone who is either suing someone or is being sued in court.
The right to appear pro se in a civil case in federal court is contained in a statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1654. Thus, anyone can appear pro se, and anyone who appears before the Court without an attorney is considered pro se. There are, however, certain limitations to self-representation, such as:
- Corporations and partnerships must be represented by an attorney.
- A pro se litigant may not represent a class in a class action.
- A non-attorney parent may not appear pro se on behalf of a child, except to appeal the denial of the child's social security benefits.
Be advised that the Clerk's Office and its employees are forbidden by law from giving you legal advice. Legal advice could be described, but is not limited to: offering interpretation of rules; recommending a course of action; predicting a judicial officer's decision and interpreting the meaning or effect of any court order or judgment.