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Friday, September 3, 2010


Have you ever been in the situation where you are in court and the gavel goes down, more figuratively than literally, and the Court says "Case Dismissed!" and you just lost and you are on your way out the door still trying to understand--what just happened there!?!?

The court has a remedy for that, by the way. Unfortunately, it doesn't really work that well for self-represented parties, but it is the law and it is supposed to work for self represented parties, even if it doesn't. You can always try it and see if you get a nice judge.

What you do is, when the judge makes a ruling that you find inexplicable, you have the option right then and there to ask the judge to explain the legal basis for his decision. Were you a lawyer, he would find it very hard to wiggle out of that request. Either the judge has to explain for the record or he has to look the answer up in his law books and explain the legal basis of his decision to you later in writing.

Your other option is to submit a Motion For Clarification which, again, is supposed elicit a response. In fact, there is a clerk at the courthouse who has the job of making sure that the judge receives that Motion For Clarification and responds to it.

In reality, as a self represented party, I've submitted these requests for an explanation in court and also I've submitted Motions For Clarification and the judge has simply refused to answer or just ignored them. I don't think that is legally correct, and in the long run I think the refusal to respond will be a problem for the judge, not for me.

The bottom line is, just by asking the question either in the court hearing or in a motion you put on record your objection to a particular legal proceeding and thus establish a basis for a later appeal should you choose to go there. Or you simply plant little seeds of doubt in the judge's mind which may later bear much good fruit in later proceedings.

So be sure you take advantage of this procedure when the times comes and a red flag comes up for you in your head saying, wait a minute, something is wrong here, something doesn't add up. Because the likelihood is, if you feel that way, there is probably a reason.

Let me know, has anyone out there asked a judge for an explanation or filed a motion for clarification? I'd love to hear about your experience!

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