I am representing myself in a civil law suit. How can I submit files and exhibits to my court docket?
In accordance with the rules for civil procedure in the appropriate court. If you don’t know what these are you have 3 basic choices:
- Hire a lawyer
- Learn fast
How can I submit files and exhibits to my court docket ?
First and foremost, get acquainted with the procedural law. Each jurisdiction (whether it is federal or state court, and whether it is in trial, appellate, or supreme court) has its court rules or rules of civil procedure. For instance, federal court has the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, whereas the Michigan equivalent is known as Michigan Court Rules. These are available online for free, and are frequently referenced in court filings.
In most instances, your filings in court will be a motion, a response, a reply, perhaps a surreply (I'm assuming that you are past the stage of pleadings and responsive pleadings), and the corresponding briefs. It is in those filings where you would include your evidence in the form of exhibits. Don't forget to also file your proofs of service on the adversary.
If your civil lawsuit is in federal court, you (or your former lawyer) will have been asked to prove having an account in PACER. Be sure to go through the tutorial on how to submit and retrieve records there, since.
Ask the [state] court clerk about any additional guidelines litigants need to follow. For instance, when filing anything in trial court, you might be asked to provide the original and n copies, one of which will be marked as "judge's copy". You should also have an additional copy and ask the clerk to stamp it as receipt of your filing(s).
If your court provides access to case records in the courthouse, I strongly encourage you to spend time studying a few of them. Take notes and make sure you understand/assimilate the style and substance of their filings. This will help you make your filings more amenable to the court system (even if you subsequently realize the judge is clueless about your case because he/she has been too negligent to read your filings).
Usually the courthouse will only have the filings made there. That is, it will hardly ever include any briefs in upper courts. Here you can download the filings of one of my lawsuits, spanning from [state] trial court all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This is altogether a daunting task requiring so much study and attention to detail. On the bright side, pro se litigation gives you much more control over your case than paying some lawyer who might turn out to be incompetent or not in a cozy enough relation with the judge.