Save Money By Representing Yourself In Court
This information provided only pertains to legal matters in the State of Michigan.
If you get a speeding ticket, read the back of your ticket and follow the instructions for
requesting a formal hearing. A formal hearing is a hearing where the prosecutor and
police officer are required to be present. Let the court know you will be representing
yourself during the formal hearing. Some courts require you to send something in
writing requesting a formal hearing and some will just allow you to request it over the
phone. Do not let a court clerk convince you to attend an informal hearing. Unless you
are prepared to plead responsible, then an informal hearing can be a waste of time. The
officer is not required to be present at an informal hearing.
The benefit of a formal hearing over an informal hearing is that you may be able to get
the ticket dismissed if the officer does not appear in court. You can request a dismissal at
a formal hearing because the city will not be able to proceed without the officer as a
witness to testify as to what is written on the ticket. If the officer does not appear, ask for
a dismissal. If the court refuses to dismiss the ticket and sets it for another court date,
then either make plans to return or ask the prosecutor for a nonmoving violation that will
not lead to points on your driver’s license. Dress as if you are going on an interview.
Those who show respect for the court impress judges. If the police officer appears in
court, then ask the officer for forgiveness and a dismissal. Oftentimes, the prosecutor will
ask the officer if the officer wants to give you a plea that involves no points or dismiss
the case. If true, emphasize that you have a clean record and the prosecutor will most
likely provide you with a plea that does not involve any points going on your driving
Probate Court has three divisions: Mental, Wills & Estates and Juvenile. This section will
deal with the first two divisions, due to the fact that Juvenile hearings are not well suited
Probate court hearings in the Mental and Will & Estate Divisions can be contested or
uncontested. A contested hearing is where all or some of the parties legally entitled to be
a part of the hearing are not in agreement regarding how the estate is handled. Whereas,
an uncontested hearing is where the parties are in agreement. Uncontested hearings are
well suited for self- representation, because there is no need to hire a lawyer to represent
your interest because someone else wants to proceed or take a different course of action
than you do in probate court.
There are forms available for the various types of probate proceedings. The forms are
designed to be easy to understand.
But there will probably come a time when you will have questions. Before you call or go
to court to ask someone a question, write down all of your questions. Then make sure all
of your documents are in order. In either the Mental Division or the Wills & Estate
Division of probate court, there is an analyst or a deputy register that can assist you.
These are people who may or may not be lawyers. They are trained to assist you with the
process and to review your documents to make sure everything is in order before you are
allowed to proceed to the next step in court. Oftentimes, if you are representing yourself,
they will say they cannot give out legal advice. However, you can eliminate this barrier to
obtaining the advice you need by saying you have a procedural or technical question and
that you don’t need legal advice. Then frame your question in terms of what are the steps,
how long does it typically takes for a certain task to be completed, what things need to be
done before a certain document can be submitted to the court, etc. To get a copy of the
probate forms go to: http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/probate/gpindex.htm
Landlord Tenant Eviction
Simple evictions that do not involve any counter claims by a tenant can be handled easily
by those who cannot afford a lawyer or who just don’t want to hire one. There are forms
and pamphlets that will guide you through the various steps involved in landlord tenant
eviction cases. For general information about landlord tenant cases, you can visit:
publication also contains a sample lease that complies with the law, as well as some court
forms and other useful documents. This is a very useful guide to have in your possession
if you are a landlord or tenant.
If you are a landlord, there are a few things you need to do before you rent the property.
You need to make sure your property is registered with the city, if it is required. Pay any
applicable inspection fees or make arrangements with the city if you can’t afford the
payments. Correct any violations noted or speak to a supervisor and ask if you can
receive a waiver regarding any repairs the city says need to be made, in which you
disagree. If you can’t afford to make the repairs in the manner specified by the city, ask
a supervisor if he or she knows of any programs that may offer financial or labor
assistance. Some cities have programs where they have volunteers clean up property,
although these resources may be reserved for the elderly or homeowners at the very least;
but it does not hurt to ask if you obtain some free assistance. Before you have a tenant
sign a lease, make sure you provide the tenant with a lead disclosure form if your
property was built before 1978. A sample copy of a lead disclosure form is provided in
the publication referenced above. As a landlord, please do not underestimate the
importance of knowing what is contained in your lease agreement. Make sure you have
followed all that is required of you under the lease agreement. If you cannot, then don’t
use the agreement. Instead, obtain one that you can follow. Do not expect any sympathy
from a judge who discovers that you have not followed your own lease agreement.
Oftentimes, judges are trying to clear their docket and keep their caseload light. Don’t
give them a valid excuse to dismiss your cases. If you need to go to court, make sure you
correctly fill out the forms provided to you at court. Again, don’t provide the judge with
an easy way to dismiss our case without even reviewing the merits of our case.
In the case of a divorce or annulment, self-representation makes more sense in those
cases that do not involve minor children. This is easier to do in situations where spouses
maintained their own personal accounts and paid their own separate bills during the
marriage. The parties should also agree on a division of property that typically involves
each spouse maintaining ownership over those items that the spouse brought into the
marriage and each party agreeing to pay his or her own debt that arose during the
marriage. Anything more or less may lead to a dispute that may create the desire of at
least one spouse for one-upmanship. You may want to hire a knowledgeable person or
company to prepare the divorce or annulment forms for you and provide and explain the
court proceedings, so that you have a familiarity with the system prior to your court date.
For more information to assist you with your divorce, go to:
Oftentimes, people have kids and they find themselves in court with the other parent.
There is help available to understand the commonly used terms, procedures and basic tips
to represent yourself if family court matters involving minors. This information is put
together in an easy to understand format. To get started, go to:
Representing yourself is your right and depending upon the circumstances, you may be
able to save a lot of money in legal fees. You can obtain quality information to assist in
your self-representation by visiting the websites recommended in this book.