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Taking Charge of the Law
Change the System by Representing Yourself in Court
by Douglas Tooley

The freedom of homelessness can be terrifying, but that freedom gives one the ability to advocate the truth without fear of further loss. Those that control society have built a psychological construct of manipulation upon the fear of loss of home, seeding the inner devils of destructiveness upon those who can see no other way. These individuals end up serving the masters of this unlawful and unconstitutional construct – their lives serving as nothing but poster children of fear for the normal, the domesticated, the housed.

This article is about taking ownership, as citizen, of the law, and the recourse it is supposed to provide.

The construct of fear used by the powerful, the 1%, is the law, the rational side of the social mind, the flip side to the emotional, religion. The written parts of the law are only one cog in a larger wheel that has existed even before written history, that wheel that makes us social beings.

Creative Commons License
Occupy the Law by Douglas Tooley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://www.motleytools.com/blog/2013/03/taking_charge_of_the_law_chang.html.

Here, I will not step you through every step you need to take to file a lawsuit on your own behalf, I will, give you a sense of the big picture providing you with a foundation for opposing some very experienced, smart, and corrupt, individuals – for your benefit, as well as for the rest of us who have chosen to live free lives. This understanding is valuable even if you never go to court, especially in lobbying elected officials.

The First Amendment of the Bill of rights gives us rights of speech, assembly, religion and, lastly, the right to redress for grievances in Court. Freedom of the press – whatever exactly that word means these days, is also one of those rights, together they are the very core of our society. Defending these, and one’s self, is never a foolish choice.


Since Cain and Abel in western religion it has been the shepherd who is the prophet, the individual innovator stepping outside the familial tribe who has moved us forward. The mantle of the shepherd today falls upon the homeless.

Fear of the wild, in proportion, is a healthy thing – a prudent cost for the sheer exhilaration of standing, and sleeping, in the wide open universe with nothing but yourself to rely upon.
There is a quiet dignity to this to this life, being quiet one can, if one chooses, escape the arms of the law such as it is today.

But this article is about what the law may yet be for us individually and jointly – the making real of the promises we have historically put in writing, but not real world practice - if some of us choose to stand up and stop being quiet, for a moment or two of our choosing. They say you should choose your battles wisely – and doing so in the law allows you to frame the challenge for your, and everyone’s, benefit.

Though I make reference here to precedents written in the stone of historical truth, by definition ‘common law’ , my ramblings here are anything but definitive, merely notes from a few exploratory trips I have made through openings in the bushes, my words nothing but informal piles of stones, cairns, for you to follow if you wish, or to be knocked down, rightly or wrongly.
I hope you consider following at least some of these paths, realigning them as necessary to mark your own journey.

The State of California has pioneered self-representation in civil law, largely through the work of Nolo, latin for “I don’t choose too” , was founded in 1971 with the publication of books on divorce and tenant law. Nolo has continued to grow with an ever expanding list of titles and services, many of which are available on the internet.

This loosely formed group – and its fans - are to the law as hacker culture is to information technology, ‘open source’ purveyors of the ‘programs’ by which our society is run. They are increasingly making it possible for an individual without money to pursue grievances – returning the law to its roots in the golden rule, not the perversion where those that have the gold make the rules.

Nolo’s current topics run the gamut from small employer law to artistic intellectual property protection to expansions of its first social service oriented works.

Most 'self-representers' appearing in Court these days are likely pursuing family law matters or bankruptcy and have learned their general lessons about civil procedure through the handling of these unfortunate life events – both life events homeless folks have very likely experienced, if not been through court with.

The author used their book ‘How to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy’ successfully, including delaying, for a short time, his home’s foreclosure. The author has not had to take family issues to Court, but Nolo does offer three books on divorce law – pretty much essential reading if you have children and there are hostile feelings.


Experience with the above procedures will give one a general sense of common law procedures from start to finish – a rudimentary knowledge of which is essential before embarking on a case where the issues are not so well formalized. Small claims and government assisted discrimination cases are also ways to obtain this knowledge, but both procedures have limits which one should not let restrain you in other matters.

There is a saying that the person who represents themselves has a fool for a client.
This is still true in felony criminal court, or even in some misdemeanor actions – including those in Federal Court – at this time the author’s most challenging case. However in the distinct field of civil practice the situation is different. These matters can be quite complex and no-one knows your own situation better than you. As such the validity of this warning about self representation is waning at this time, irrespective of what may still be foolish behavior on the part of the author.

Even if you do choose legal representation for some portion of your battle understanding procedures will only strengthen your position – including in criminal proceedings with public defender representation. (Criminal procedures can always be challenged in civil court, even with a guilty plea, with an ‘abuse of process’ case – a topic not addressed here.)


The first important thing in taking on a more complex action is choosing your battles wisely – usually the strategies open to you, not to mention choices of defendants to sue, is manifold – and the choices here are all yours. Having at least an inkling of how each choice will play out over the course of pretrial, and, if necessary, trial, procedures makes it crucial to understand the basics of the entire process from start to finish.

Generally speaking the plaintiff, the civil law equivalent of a criminal prosecutor, has some advantage in case proceedings – so long as your argument and evidence makes sense and the proper procedures are followed. As a self-represented individual, or pro se, much of this advantage is lost, at least a first – but persevere through the B.S. while watching out for the traps and you will have a solid case. Still going before a jury is wise, as is expecting the need to appeal.

In every case you should expect some form of blow-back – perhaps meaningless, perhaps not; perhaps in the context of the case, and perhaps in completely unrelated aspects of your life – the more powerful the authority the more likely this will be a factor.

Control of the economy, and social status, is a foundation of the power of the legal institution – not to mention control over the careers of legal practitioners themselves. As a Pro Se you are somewhat immune, as a homeless individual your immunity is as solid to this extortionary abuse as possible. Yeah, you are still more likely to lose than win and the closer your case strikes at the heart of this abusive, evil contradiction and perversion of our system of constitutional and common law the more assured one will be of a loss.

But even a loss creates a documented record – a record others can, and will, refer to in their own purposes, with their own spin, likely those at least a little bit friendly to your concerns. Like a bad cop with dozens of complaints filed against him, or her, the scales of justice will tip, even with a finger or two on the opposing side. If you’ve made some acquaintances along the way it will also make it possible for them to help out in some small way here and there.
And, as I like to joke, that documented record will still exist after the revolution and the worst abuses of due process may well be legal cause, under global, historical, common law to bring out the guillotine and chop the bastard’s heads off.


Nearly every criminal action requires a judicial finding of evil, of malicious intent. This is not the case with most civil lawsuits, save for restraining orders which find evil without sufficient due process, and often on status alone. Curiously, English Law allows for private, criminal, prosecution – at the victim’s expense.

The O.J. Simpson ‘wrongful death’ civil lawsuit is the most famous civil case in recent history. This case used a criminal statute as the basis for a civil complaint. This is a good strategy. The standard of proof is less in a civil action, yet the severe nature of the charges are easy to understand, and address. Yes, there are no criminal penalties of jail time, but relief that includes triple damages, injunctions such as restraining orders, and the shame of being found guilty of a malicious act can be very sweet. Personally, I like to include civil complaints of ‘attempted murder’ as part of a larger set of charges.

If you’ve been the defendant in a civil action before it has most likely been a formulaic and knee jerk response – sometimes this is appropriate, say for a vehicle repossession after several months of missed payments, sometimes not. In cases involving contract disputes between more financially equal, and legally represented, the legal strategy is most often geared to settlement before, or during the trial. Accusing someone of being the focus of evil in the modern world is not necessarily the best choice if a quick cash settlement is your goal.
Pondering these simple facts reveals much of the bias in today’s practice of law. The poor defendant is presumed to be unworthy, at best a deadbeat, most likely as malicious, while the rich plaintiff is presumed to be holy and upstanding. In the not too distant past this had merit, if, and only if, you were a white male coming either from family or with a clearly discernible talent. However in today’s economy dominated by large corporations this is no longer the case, the advances of integration not withstanding – advances that have really only broadly benefited middle and upper class white women even if they are better middle managers than the typical male.

In encouraging you to file a complaint to address your personal grievances I am attempting to advance a practice of law that is much closer to the Constitution than our current, corporatist and corrupt, system.

When you construct a complaint one wants to avoid dramatic legal strategies like you may have seen on TV or in the movies – a simple, straightforward, and principled complaint will carry all the weight you need, or want, with a jury or an honest judge.

A complaint that does not include allegations of evil (especially an evil judge!) will be easier to handle, and is appropriate in at least two situations – an associate who has, under pressure, sold you out to some degree and with whom you still have some rapport, and with a larger corporate body that has tolerated evil behavior on the part of a few specific, separately addressed, individuals. Such complaints will, at least, force the passive aggressive and their ilk to clearly choose, and reveal, their true natures.

To sum up, a complaint can include separate charges, the wording of each and their relation to each other will determine the dynamics of your case.


Cases can include more than one party and choosing who, and who not, to sue is important. In some regards it is best to be as inclusive as possible even if your target is only one particularly nasty bad apple. For one thing, discovery, the process of collecting evidence through subpoenas, etc is easier. This aspect provides a good way to decide whether to include someone or not in a lawsuit. If an involved party is willing to provide evidence to you in good faith before you file your case that is reason to exclude them. If, perchance, they later turn hostile it is always possible to modify your original complaint.

Otherwise it is better to be inclusive. Even if a non-core defendant is able to get themselves excused they will have, hopefully, at least read, and reflected upon, your charges and will take measures to insure they are not involved in such behavior in the future.

One particular legal ‘windmill’ this author has been strategically tilting at for some time, so far without success, is to settle with the corporate party for two things, a modest estimate of true damages AND payment of legal fees to pursue the truly evil individuals in their employ for punitive and injunctive relief. Likely, my failure to settle cases with this strategy is evidence of widespread, metastatic, corruption in our corporations and governments which actually encourage implicitly this sort of behavior.


Knowing explicitly how each of these details will play out through the course of pre-trial and trial proceedings like an opening move plays out in a chess game is not possible. However if you have your objectives clearly in mind, realistic or not, you can at least venture a guess at what may, worst case, happen next. As such you can at least estimate the consequences of what actually does happen, not to mention having the beginnings of a framework to hang your well earned experience.

It isn’t necessary, or possible, to understand everything – including even every pre-discovery, pre-trial detail of your case – though the more so the better.

It is crucial that you have a ‘cause of action’ – sufficient evidence to initiate legal action. Pre-trial procedures, especially discovery will likely provide additional details that will either strengthen, or weaken, your case.

Taking your time to think things through before acting is important. The statute of limitations is always at least a year, a clock that starts ticking not at the date of harm – but upon the date of your learning of the cause of that harm. In some cases, like childhood sexual abuse, time limitations can be waived, but always with some sort of relevant, reasonable, argument.
Even if circumstances or abuse lead to the dismissal of your case once filed the statute of limitations does not apply – you can, for the remainder of your life file a motion to re-open a case – so long as there is a reasonable reason to do – including the retirement of an abusive Judge!

Once you get started published Court rules, “Rules of Civil Procedure” should make it clear the steps you need to follow. This will almost certainly include a motion to proceed “In Forma Pauperis” which will waive filing fees. If there are additional court costs these also can be waived by motion.

You can be certain that opposing counsel – and sometimes the Judge, will try to stop or delay your case – rightly or wrongly. This is well tread ground and there are always responses to same.


Our Constitutional and Common Law procedure gives everyone equal rights before a jury and, theoretically, a Judge. This is not the case. Just understanding exactly how this inequality is accomplished is done across society and business is a worthy endeavor. This understanding gives you the power to respond to it, rather than to allow oneself to be provoked into seemingly irrational reactions.

The fact that system itself has been abused so deeply is clearly malicious. This is not some evil brought upon us from some unidentified god, or devil – it is brought about by the choices of individuals across the span of their careers. Knowing these details makes responding to every day challenges easier and wiser and hopefully you will need to go to court only rarely – and when you do to great positive effect.

Creative Commons License
Occupy the Law by Douglas Tooley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://www.motleytools.com/blog/2013/03/taking_charge_of_the_law_chang.html.


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Change the System by Representing Yourself in Court
by Douglas Tooley

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Change the System by Representing Yourself in Court
by Douglas Tooley
from Motley Blog
The freedom of homelessness can be terrifying, but that freedom gives one the ability to advocate the truth without fear of further loss. Those that control society have built a psychological construct of manipulation upon the fear of loss of... [Read More]

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