Judicial Council of California Administrative Office of the Courts Center for Families, Children & the Courts, California

Many judges have expectations about who self-represented litigants are, why they do not have lawyers, what they want from the court, and how they will behave. These expectations play a powerful role in how the courts treat people who are representing themselves. While many of these expectations come from experience, some may result from particularly dramatic or intense cases and may not reflect the complex reality of the millions who represent themselves in court each year. Statistical surveys and court self-help centers have been critical for understanding this reality and for improving our response to the needs of such litigants. This chapter provides background for judges on the issues set out in this benchguide.