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Pro Se Litigation

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Format: 2020
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De La Fuente Guerra v. Democratic Party of Florida (Robert L. Hinkle, N.D. Fla. 4:16-cv-26), De La Fuente v. Kemp (Richard W. Story, 1:16-cv-256) and De La Fuente v. Kemp (Mark H. Cohen, 1:16-cv-2937) (N.D. Ga.), De La Fuente v. South Carolina Democratic Party (Cameron McGowan Currie, D.S.C. 3:16-cv-322), De La Fuente Guerra v. Winter (Robert C. Brack, D.N.M. 1:16-cv-393), De La Fuente v. Krebs (Roberto A. Lange, D.S.D. 3:16-cv-3035), De La Fuente v. Cortés (John E. Jones III, M.D. Pa. 1:16-cv-1696), De La Fuente v. Wyman (Benjamin H. Settle, W.D. Wash. 3:16-cv-5801), and De La Fuente v. Alcorn (Liam O’Grady, E.D. Va. 1:16-cv-1201)
A prospective candidate for president in 2016 filed federal complaints challenging his exclusion from primary election and general election ballots in several states. In 2018, the candidate achieved a change to ballot access rules in Virginia.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; laches; primary election; matters for state courts; Electoral College; absentee ballots; interlocutory appeal; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Esshaki v. Whitmer (Terrence G. Berg, E.D. Mich. 2:20-cv-10831)
Because of a stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic, a district judge extended the deadline for ballot petition signatures and halved the number of signatures required. The court of appeals ruled that the judge was right on the merits but not empowered to specify the remedy. On remand, the district judge ruled that the state’s implemented remedy did not quite pass constitutional muster, and the judge informed the state defendants of a possible constitutional remedy.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: COVID-19; getting on the ballot; primary election; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Saball v. Town of Groton (Leo T. Sorokin, D. Mass. 1:18-cv-12312)
A pro se federal complaint alleged that voters’ names on envelopes containing early cast ballots violated the secret ballot. The district judge denied immediate relief for want of compelling arguments and for want of service on the defendants.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Early voting; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Acevedo v. Cook County Officers Electoral Board (Elaine E. Bucklo, 1:18-cv-293) and Kowalski McDonald v. Cook County Officers’ Electoral Board (John J. Tharp., Jr., 1:18-cv-1277) (N.D. Ill.)
Two cases challenged the larger number of signatures required to get on a primary election ballot in Cook County than would be required to get on a primary election ballot for statewide office. Both district judges and the court of appeals ruled against the plaintiffs.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Davis v. Perry (Orlando L. Garcia, W.D. Tex. 5:11-cv-788)
On September 22, 2011, six days after a three-judge redistricting bench trial on legislative and congressional districts in Texas, voters filed a federal complaint alleging dilution of minority voting strength in their districts. The court ordered the defendants to respond by October 3, and the case was consolidated with a collection of cases already underway. Seven years after the litigation began, the Supreme Court approved districting plans that reflected the political judgments of the state legislature as much as possible, modified by the district court only as necessary to cure legal defects.
Subject: District lines. Topics: Malapportionment; three-judge court; case assignment; section 2 discrimination; section 5 preclearance; intervention; attorney fees; removal; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Hunter v. Hamilton County Board of Elections (1:16-cv-962) and Hunter v. Hamilton County Board of Elections (1:16-cv-996) (Michael R. Barrett, S.D. Ohio)
A plaintiff convicted in state court of a felony filed a federal complaint on September 27, 2016, seeking an order requiring the county board of elections to accept her voter registration because her sentence had been stayed by the district court in a habeas corpus action, so she was not incarcerated. A district judge granted the plaintiff relief on October 6. A second federal complaint filed pro se on October 11 seeking the plaintiff’s certification as a candidate for juvenile court was not successful, because the plaintiff had been disbarred as a result of her conviction.
Subject: Nullifying registrations. Topics: Registration challenges; getting on the ballot; case assignment; pro se party; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Schulz v. Iowa (James E. Gritzner, S.D. Iowa 4:07-cv-350)
An eight-plaintiff pro se federal complaint challenged the participation fee for Iowa State University’s Republican straw poll for the 2008 presidential election, which was to be held two days after the complaint was filed. On the afternoon before the poll, the district judge denied the plaintiffs immediate relief from the bench after a hearing. The court of appeals affirmed the decision, on the day of the poll.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topics: Pro se party; equal protection; interlocutory appeal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Park v. Parnell (Timothy M. Burgess, D. Alaska 3:16-cv-281), James v. Cascos (Robert Pitman and Jeffrey C. Manske, W.D. Tex. 6:16-cv-457), Conant v. Oregon (Marco A. Hernandez, D. Or. 3:16-cv-2290), and Barnes v. Wisconsin (William C. Griesbach, E.D. Wis. 1:16-cv-1692)
A pro se complaint sought to enjoin on a vote-dilution theory a state’s Electoral College votes’ going to the prevailing presidential candidate in the state, because although that candidate earned a majority of electoral votes, an opposing candidate earned more votes nationwide. Four days later, the district judge ruled against the plaintiff. Although the judge granted the plaintiff in forma pauperis status during the emergency phase of the litigation, the judge denied in forma pauperis status on appeal because the plaintiff did not present supplementary financial information as ordered. Pro se actions in Virginia, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin challenging winner-take-all allocations of Electoral College votes also were unsuccessful.
Subject: Voting irregularities. Topics: Electoral College; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Raiklin v. Virginia Department/Board of Elections (John A. Gibney, Jr., E.D. Va. 3:18-cv-288)
A district judge denied immediate relief to a pro se plaintiff who filed an action challenging his exclusion from a primary election ballot, because he filed the complaint after early voting had started.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; pro se party; primary election; early voting; absentee ballots.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

This dramatic reenactment provides an example and insights of how mediation between a prison inmate and relevant state officials unfolds.  Guided by an experienced mediator, both sides present and discuss their cases, with the goal to achieve a mutually agreed upon resolution. 

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