USFLMD's Pro Se Handbook
Things to Know before Representing Yourself
ITEM 3.00 | THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE REPRESENTING YOURSELF
Representing yourself carries a lot of responsibilities and some risks. You should carefully consider them. Here are some:
• If you miss a deadline, submit a document that is false, make a false statement, disregard a court order, refuse to follow a court rule, or ask for something to which you know you are not entitled, you may lose on that ground alone and the court may impose a fine against you or hold you in contempt.
• Lying in a court document is perjury and is a crime punishable by imprisonment.
• Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure prohibits anyone from bringing a claim that is clearly frivolous or meant only to harass someone. If the court determines that you have brought a claim for an improper or unnecessary purpose, the court may impose a sanction against you, including ordering you to pay the other side’s attorney’s fee.
• If you are not a licensed lawyer, you may represent only yourself. Representing anyone but yourself is illegal.
• If you lose your action, you likely will have to pay some costs that the winning party incurred during the lawsuit. Costs can be expensive.