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Ninth Judicial Circuit Court

SELF REPRESENTATION

Pro Per:
A "Pro Per" litigant is a person who represents himself/ herself rather than hiring an attorney.

Standards:
A person acting on his or her own behalf is, under the law, held to the same standards and duties as an attorney admitted to the practice of law in the State of Michigan. Such person is expected to know what the law requires and how to accomplish his or her purposes in accordance with the applicable statutes and court rules.

Judges and hearing officials cannot provide legal advice. Many court employees are not lawyers. Do not ask them to provide legal advice. Consult the Michigan Court Rules and Michigan laws rather than asking advice from the court staff. Members of the court staff are allowed to provide procedural information only.

Seeking Advice:
If you need advice, please contact an attorney or consider attending the following local seminars/clinics:
  • The Kalamazoo Public Library and the Kalamazoo County Bar Association offer a series of free seminars about common legal concerns. Call 269/553-7920 to obtain information on legal seminars or to make a free 20-minute appointment for landlord or housing questions.
  • The Kalamazoo County Bar Association holds free walk-in Legal Outreach Clinics for low/moderate income persons. Call 269/381-4693 or visit their web site to obtain information.
    www.kalamazoobar.org
  • The Kalamazoo Public Library, in downtown Kalamazoo, has an extensive legal reference section.
  • Family Law Assistance Clinic: 1st-2nd-3rd-4th Wednesday of every month at 9:00 a.m., at the Gull Road Courthouse.

If you do not have a lawyer and do not know a specific lawyer to contact, you can be referred to a lawyer through the State Bar of Michigan.
State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend Street
Lansing, MI 48933

Phone number for use within state of Michigan: 1-800-968-0738
Phone number for use outside state of Michigan: (517) 346-6338

Self-Help Information Available.
The court has free self-help packets available for some types of proceedings. Ask at the Clerk's Office counter at the Michigan Avenue Courthouse or the Gull Road Courthouse for such assistance. At the present time, we offer packets for the following types of proceedings: motion regarding custody, motion regarding parenting time, motion regarding child support, motion regarding change of domicile, petition for personal protection order.

The State Bar of Michigan has an online legal self-help center that provides resources to the public:
www.michbar.org/news/releases/archives05/self_help.cfm

The State Court Administrative Office has self-help information at their website:
www.courts.michigan.gov/scao/selfhelp/selfhelphome.htm

Indigent:
If you are indigent and qualify under specific financial guidelines, you may seek assistance from the following service:
Western Michigan Legal Services
201 W. Kalamazoo Avenue
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007
Phone: 269/344-8113

Attendance at Court Proceedings:
Arrive at the assigned judge's courtroom or referee's hearing room for the scheduled day and time of your court proceeding. Arrive early to allow time for courthouse security measures. Be prepared to spend most of the morning or afternoon in court. Your case may be heard immediately or you may have to wait for other cases to be heard.

When you arrive, check in with the judicial aide or domestic courtroom clerk either in the assigned judge's office or in the courtroom. The judicial aide or domestic courtroom clerk sits at the desk next to the judge in the courtroom. If you check in at the courtroom desk during a court proceeding, you must whisper when speaking. Advise the judicial aide or domestic courtroom clerk of your name, the name of the case, and that you are representing yourself.

What to Bring to the Court Proceeding:

1. all copies of your documents pertaining to the scheduled court proceeding;
2. paper;
3. pen or pencil;
4. corresponding proposed order to present to the judge if your motion is granted.

What to do at the Court Proceeding:
Read and follow the "Courtroom Etiquette" procedures.

If Your Motion is Granted:
If you have a proposed order prepared (pursuant to MCR 2.602), tell the judge you have a proposed order to be signed and ask permission to hand the order to the judge. If the judge signs the order, take it to the Circuit Court Clerk's Office and ask for a copy of the order. Then serve a copy of the order on each attorney/party of record.

If you do not have an order prepared, you will need to prepare a proposed order, pursuant to MCR 2.602, based on the judge's ruling. Provide an appropriately sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope so the clerk can return a copy to you after the judge signs the order. After you receive the copy, make a copy of the order and serve it on the attorneys/parties of record.

If Your Motion is Denied:
The judge will state the reasons for denial on the record. The judge will probably direct the opposing attorney/party to prepare a proposed order.

If you want the reasons for denial in writing, you will need to order a transcript of the hearing, and you will have to pay for the transcript. See Video Recording for instructions on ordering transcripts.

References:
MCL 600.916, MCR 2.602

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