June 18, 2020 Articles

Discovery When Opposing a Pro Se Litigant

Themes and theories of discovery to keep in mind when the other side represents themselves.

By Lori Gayle Nuckolls

Access to technology and information is increasing. Consequently, more people are apprised of their legal rights and are representing themselves in legal matters. In 2019, the federal courts of appeals reported that 49 percent of new cases were brought by unrepresented parties (though this represented a decline of 4 percent). 

It is within the court’s discretion to determine the extent and nature of discovery at the trial level, as governed by existing law and rules, regardless of whether a party is represented or pro se. In the context of pro se litigants, the primary concern of the court is to honor the legal right of all persons to be heard while avoiding the burden and cost of frivolous litigation when this right is abused. 

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