After filing a lawsuit in federal court it is common for the defendant to file a Motion for Summary Judgement to get rid of a case against a Pro Se litigant. If this is your first case, this Motion can seem like a trump card has been played and you are done.
No so fast.
As you will learn after have a couple of cases under your belt, ridding yourself of a Motion for Summary Judgement is usually quite easy. In this article, I am not going to focus on the reply or the process. I am going to forward on to you some case law that was sent to me that relates to the situation. If you are knee deep in a case and have a 26(b)(6) on your plate, email me and I will likely be able to help.
Here is the case law I was discussing:
In General, Pro Se pleadings are held to less stringent standards than those applied to members of the Bar (lawyers…).
For example, in reviewing a pro se litigant’s complaint for dismissal, the court must read the complaint less stringently than it would an attorney’s. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (per curiam); Madyun v. Thompson, 657 F.2d 868, 876 (7th Cir. 1981). Pro se prisoners are not prejudiced by the filing of handwritten materials. See Twyman v. Crisp, 584 F.2d 352, 358 (10th Cir. 1978) (per curiam); Tarlton v. Henderson, 467 F.2d 200,201 (5th Cir. 1972) (per curiam).
If the complaint misapprehends the claim appropriate to its grievance, the trial court must re-characterize the claim.
See Madison v. Tahash, 359 F.2d 60, 61 (8th Cir. 1966) (construing application for appointment of counsel as one for a certificate of probable cause); United States ex rel. Johnson v. Chairman, N.Y. State Bd. of Parole, 363 F. Supp. 416, 417 (E.D.N.Y. 1973) (application for order mandating parole board to state reasons for denying parole may be treated as habeas corpus petition), aff’d, 500 F.2d 925 (2d Cir.), vacated and remanded, 419 U.S. 1015 (1974). But see Mundy v. Winston, 457 F. Supp. 678, 680 (E.D. Va. 1978) (pro se litigant always must have ultimate decision to elect what claim he will pursue).
Pro Se complaints should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it is apparent that they are unsupportable in law or fact.
See Brandon v. Dist. of Columbia Bd. of Parole, 734 F.2d 56, 62 (D.C. Cir. 1984), cert, denied, 469 U.S. 1127 (1985); Williams v. Kullman, 722 F.2d 1048, 1050 (2d Cir. 1983); Bayron v. Trudeau, 702 F.2d 43, 45 (2d Cir. 1983).
Pro Se complaints cannot be construed inflexibly so as to require dismissal if the complaint fails to request precise appropriate relief.
See DeWitt v. Pail, 366 F.2d 682, 684-85 (9th Cir. 1966); Downing v. New Mexico Supreme Court, 339 F.2d 435, 436 (10th Cir. 1964) (per curiam); Holsey v. Bass, 519 F. Supp. 395, 402-03 (D. Md. 1981), aff’d, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983). See generally Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (per curiam) (pro se pleadings held to less stringent standards than those applied to attorneys).
In response to the difficulty Pro Se litigants have in recognizing summary judgment obligations, some courts have expanded the liberality traditionally demonstrated towardPro Se pleadings
See, e.g., Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (per curiam).
There should be a general attitude of paternalism by the judiciary towards Pro Se litigants
See, Muhammad v. Rowe, 638 F.2d 693 (7th Cir. 1981
Hope this case law was helpful for you.
Fight the essential fight, Boiler