Tips & Tactics
Powerful Pro Se Pleadings ...
The missing piece in most pro se lawsuits is powerful pleadings ... a mistake even seasoned lawyers frequently make.
Your lawsuit stands or falls on its pleadings ... the "Complaint" if you're the plaintiff, the "Answer" if you're the defendant.
Then, of course, there are counterclaims, cross-claims, third-party complaints and answers to each of these, also. It's really quite simple the way Jurisdictionary explains it, but it's also extremely important to get it right when starting out!
Whether you win or lose depends primarily on how well you write your pleadings ... i.e., the part of your paperwork that states what your case is about, what you intend to prove, and what you want the court to do if you prove all the facts you say you will prove.
It's amazing how many people (including seasoned lawyers) do very little to pump-up their pleadings with persuasive power. Most of the pleadings you see are more like letters to the judge, rather than effective statements of the litigants' right to formal redress of their grievances.
Pleadings should state the legal grounds for what you want the court to do, and they should state the facts you intend to prove to show the court that you're entitled to the relief you seek.
That's what pleadings do!
Plaintiffs must state at least one "cause of action" plus all facts that support each cause. A cause of action is the plaintiff's right to sue. Every cause of action requires that certain facts be proved. The plaintiff's pleading, therefore, needs to state all the facts that he or she intends to prove ... all of them and nothing more!
Defendants must file what we call affirmative defenses along with their Answer to the plaintiff's Complaint. Affirmative defenses are something like causes of action. They are the legal grounds the defendant is relying on to show the plaintiff should not win! Though professional lawyers rarely go beyond just stating the affirmative defenses, wise defendants also allege all the facts necessary to establish each affirmative defense. (Lawyers aren't taught how to do this in law school, and the average judge hasn't a clue!)
Please don't treat pleadings as narrative "letters to the judge". It is extremely important to file pleadings that show:
Every law depends on certain facts, but unless the facts and the law (cause of action) are clearly stated in your pleadings, your case starts off on a weak footing.
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