Judicial Impotence?
Overcriminalization Flashback: David McNab

Slamming the Courthouse Doors Shut

Often we hear that the goal of tort reformers is to slam the doors to the courtroom shut for people injured by corporations.  Yet often it's judges and lawyers who fight hardest to keep poor people from litigating.

What is a client with, say, a small legal matter to do?  It's not usually worth it to hire a lawyer to litigate a $5,000 issue.  Yet $5,000 is a non-trivial amount of money to many people.  So what is an aggrieved person to do?

Some lawyers will tell the person: "Pay me $500 and I'll give you some some advice, and maybe even edit some pleadings for you.  But I'm not your lawyer; consider me a consultant."  This is something to be encouraged, right?  Shouldn't we want to prevent poor people from slipping through the cracks? 

According to at least one federal magistrate judge, the answer is, "No." 

The judge's opinion is indeed a sad thing for poor people.  While rabid pro se litigants seeking millions of dollars are a huge problem (if no lawyer would take the "million dollar case," maybe that's because it's no such case?), many Americans have legitimate beefs involving a lot of money to them, but not enough money that hiring a lawyer would be wise.  Such litigants should be helped, not hindered.