General Warning to all Parties Filing without an Attorney

Individuals may appear "pro se" (that is, without an attorney) in the bankruptcy court. Bankruptcy can be a very difficult area in which to proceed pro se. You may wish to obtain the services of an attorney. Only an attorney is authorized to give you legal advice regarding a bankruptcy case or proceeding. The clerk’s office is prohibited from giving legal advice. For example, they cannot:

  • Explain the meaning of a particular statutory provision or rule
  • Give an interpretation of case law, rule, or statute
  • Explain the result of taking or not taking action in a case
  • Help you complete the forms, or advise you regarding what is legally require when a form elicits information from you
  • Tell you whether jurisdiction is proper in a case
  • Tell you whether a complaint properly presents a claim
  • Provide advice on the best procedure to accomplish a particular goal
  • Explain who should receive proper notice or service

The judge's responsibility is to supervise and administer the entire case and to resolve disputes between the parties. The judge must remain impartial. You cannot engage in ex parte communications with the judge. This means you cannot contact the judge to have a conversation about the case.

The individual who represents himself or herself is expected to follow all of the rules, and to know all of the applicable bankruptcy laws. This includes rules requiring written papers which must be filed, deadlines for filing pleadings, and requirements to serve the opposing side with your papers. You should wear proper clothing if you appear in court. Please no hats, shorts, thongs, or tank tops. You should be prepared to discuss the matter on the court’s calendar and be courteous to both the judge and the opposing party.