Someone who represents themselves has a fool for a client
Warning - This post has many explicit words which are directly cut and pasted from pleadings filed.
The general public has a very low opinion of lawyers. Most late night jokes start with the "what's the difference between a lawyer and a....".
However, one thing attorneys bring to the table for most clients, like it or not, is a neutrality balance to the facts and circumstances of a particular case. When someone represents themselves, it is impossible to separate the emotion from the case. Here is a perfect example of such a circumstance. Let me introduce you to Paul Hupp. Mr. Hupp found himself in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010. In reading Mr. Hupp's case file, it appears he borrowed about $7k for student loans. Through the course of a twisted sort of affairs, and if you believe Mr. Hupp, his $7k debt grew to $80k. Mr. Hupp filed bankruptcy, tried to wipe out the debt, and lost. He then lost his debt on appeal to the District Court. He then lost his appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. All to be expected with the difficulty of discharging student loans under 11 USC 523. However, this is where it gets interesting. After losing every step of the way, Mr. Hupp files this pleading which is a motion to rehear and a motion to rehear en banc (before the entire 17 judge court). docs/ass_clown_petition1.pdf In the pleading, Mr. Hupp makes a variety of actually reasonably decent legal arguments. However, his pleading is fatal in that within the first paragraph of the second page he puts the Court on notice that civil unrest is coming. In the second paragraph on page two, Mr. Hupp refers to the three judge panel who ruled against him as "slime ball, piece of shit, ass clown judges. And in case it was unclear who he was speaking of, he names the Judges - Bowie, Canby, Thomas and Fletcher. He tells the judges that one way or the other the facts are coming out.. and for the Court to "remember that bitches". The pleading goes on and on, using explecitives, making threats of civil unrest to the judges, and then concludes immediately proceeding his signature to say "YOU COCK SUCKING MOTHER FUCKERS ARE ON NOTICE." While I have no idea what happened to Mr. Hupp, this is an extreme example of how emotions cloud independent thought. Maybe Mr. Hupp was mentally ill. Maybe he snapped because he lost every level of his fight. Maybe he felt disenfranchised by the process. Whatever happened, whatever lead Mr. Hupp to this pleading is why lawyers are so important.
Lawyers are experts in the law. We have gone to undergrad and graduate school for 7 years. We have practiced in our fields for years after that. A big part of the job is not "lawyering" but counseling clients. Bringing client expectations in line with reasonable and foreseeable results.
When a client comes into my office with a problem, it could be a bankruptcy, civil issue, aviation law issue, divorce or custody, criminal matter or a will, it is my job to review their case and counsel them on what we can do to get them to their goals. While so much of the lawyer shows on television are about winning or losing, the real part of practicing law is managing expectations, educating the client and getting the best result possible with reasonable diligence. Representing yourself is legal.. There is no prohibition against it under the law. But one should think about Mr. Hupp before filing anything with a Court. At the very least have an independent attorney review your case and give you an expert opinion on how to proceed. Doing anything on your own may lead one down a path like Mr. Hupp.. Hopefully not the entire path...
Timothy Anderson 757-301-3636