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First Judicial District Court

Tribunal del Primer Distrito Judicial

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The information contained here is offered to help you represent yourself in the District Court if you do not have a lawyer.

The information offered here is NOT legal advice and may not apply to every situation. It is STRONGLY recommended that you consult with a lawyer before making decisions or taking actions in your case. Most of the information contained in this page pertains to family law cases, for example, divorce, parentage (paternity), and child support.

Court staff CANNOT give legal advice. “Legal advice” is explaining the law to you, explaining how the law may apply to your case, telling you what form you need to file, or telling you what to do in your case. “Legal advice” also includes telling you what to put in the blanks of pleading forms. Court staff CANNOT fill out the forms for you or tell you how to fill out the forms. They can explain what information the forms are asking for, but you must fill in the forms in your own words. Court staff cannot tell you what you should do in a given situation. Asking, “what would you do if you were me” is asking for legal advice!

Please do not ask the court staff for legal advice.

If you are the Petitioner, Plaintiff, Respondent, or Defendant in a court case, and you do not have a lawyer to advise and represent you, you are a “Self-Represented Litigant” (“SRL”). “Litigant” means a party to a lawsuit.

You may also be referred to as a “Pro Se Litigant”. “Pro Se” means appearing for yourself.

If you are representing yourself, you are both your own lawyer and your own client.

You will be expected to be familiar with, and follow, the statutes (laws) that apply to your case as well as the Rules of Civil Procedure, including the Local Rules, and Rules of Evidence. There are no special rules for self-represented people! The same rules that apply to lawyers apply to you. If you do not follow the law and the rules you may permanently lose important rights.

The information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and does not substitute for seeking independent legal advice regarding the handling of a lawsuit or related legal matters.

Courtroom Behavior

  1. When you come to court, dress with dignity. Some judges have dress codes, and you may be asked to leave the courtroom if your dress does not comply. Do not wear shorts, flip-flops, sunglasses, halter tops, tank tops, pants that won’t stay up without a belt or that show your underwear, T-shirts with rude messages, or other distracting clothing. Make sure any metal on your clothing (e.g., belts, shirts/jackets with metal buttons) can be removed, or you won’t make it through security. Be clean.
  2. Don’t be on time – be early, at least 15 minutes. You need to allow time to go through security, find your courtroom and check in. There is only one entrance to the courthouse, and only one person at a time can come in. Remember to allow time to find parking and get to the courthouse. Bring enough change for the parking meter or plan to park in a parking garage – you can’t get change in the courthouse, and once your hearing starts you can’t leave until it’s over.
  3. Don’t chew gum or eat or drink in the courtroom.
  4. Turn your cell phone off, not just on “vibrate”.
  5. At your hearing or trial, you address the judge as “Your Honor”.
  6. DO NOT BRING CHILDREN TO COURT. Unless a child has been subpoenaed to testify, find a babysitter. Children are not allowed in the courtrooms or hearing rooms. No day care is provided by courthouse staff. Children may not be left unattended.
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