Can I be forced to represent myself in civil court

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I be forced to represent myself in civil court

I was forced by the judge to represent myself
pro SE after my lawyer recused herself in
court. I protested that I wanted to hire another
lawyer but was denied. The judge found for the

Asked on September 5, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, there is no inherent right to an attorney in civil court, unlike in criminal court, where there is. Furthermore, you brought the lawsuit: if you were the defendant and your lawyer recused herself, the judge may have (but would not be required to) granted an adjournment, or delay, to hire an attorney (since the lawsuit was not your idea, if you were the defendant--you are just defending yourself from a legal attack); but when you are the plaintiff, the judge often feels that 1) you brought this case, so you have a responsibility to be ready for it, and 2) it would be unfair to leave the defendant hanging due to a problem on the plaintiff's end (on the end of the person who dragged him into court), and therefore judges are fairly likely to force the plaintiff to go ahead without an attorney if he or she lacks or loses one at or right before trial.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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