I have been working for an attorney for sometime now and have made a few appearances in court with him. This most recent time around I had an opportunity to go in alone because the attorney I work for was going to do a telephonic appearance. As I was entering the courtroom with this judge I am already familiar with I saw many people sitting in the seating area. One was the opposing counsel for our case; the rest I did not recognize.
We were in a civil court, which was at our County Courthouse which is in Snohomish County in Western Washington State.
There were many civil cases involving for the same issue that I was there for: namely foreclosure.
It has been my observation foreclosures nearly always involve people over the age 50 being foreclosed upon. Often they are elderly (over 65 years old) and do not understand the (unnecessary) complexity of mortgages.
It is not unusual to see an elderly man or woman walk into the courthouse appearing pro se, thinking that they can defend themselves. I saw a couple of cases like this just in the time I was there in court.
One man was so old (likely 80 plus) who needed special assistance just to appear in front of the judge, which I may add was not adequate. That man was immediately shut down by the judge for not following some tedious rule that I can not remember. The man clearly needed some sort of advocate to help him even stand before the court, which the court did not provide.
Another man who appeared before our case came before the court was elderly as well, but he appeared to be much more prepared than the previous gentleman. He understood the merits of the case very well and could clearly see he was being screwed.
The judge wrote him off because he did not provide correct service to an attorney who was in the courtroom. The judge started to get more and more aggressive with him cutting him off saying that she could not hear anymore.
Attorneys in the seating around me (including the opposing counsel for our case) were snickering and laughing at the gentleman as did the judge.
She advised him to talk to the opposing counsel in his case for more information about how to proceed!!!
I have seen this same judge previously send a confused pro se litigant to talk to the opposing counsel about how their case should be handled. Even I knew this was crazy! I thought the behavior of many of the attorneys who were laughing at these pro se litigants outright disturbing and unethical
These attorneys and judges are very harsh and don’t offer any guidance to these people that are trying to appear on their own; more likely than not because they can not afford any sort of help. And it seems that everyone (at least judges and attorneys) knows that there is no justice for pro se litigants. See ABA Law Journal, “86 percent of low-income Americans’ civil legal issues get inadequate or no legal help, study says” (June 14, 2017).
There seems to me to be a complete disregard for any non-lawyer that attempts to face these people (attorneys and judges) in this courtroom; perhaps any courtroom in Washington. (I’ve witnessed people hysterically crying in the courtroom purely because they are desperately confused, which I am able to sympathize with being the legal assistant for an attorney who is directly involved in these cases.)
It was apparent when our matter appeared that the judge had already made her mind up before each attorney talked. The Judge disregarded much of what my attorney had to say and she did so with smirk and a laugh, which I observed while I was in her court room.
Here is a copy of the transcript of that hearing. You be the judge as to whether the judge was being fair.