Pro se litigants vs lawyers: a relational perspective on the adversary system

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Lokstadt, Nicole
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Philosophy
This thesis gives an account of how the adversary system harms pro se litigants. I first introduce the issue of pro se litigation, explaining that being a pro se litigant is not a choice but an inescapable harm. I then look to the ideals of justice, specifically the Rule of Law, to explain how the system fails to fulfill these ideals, and consequently fails to protect the dignity of a pro se litigant. I then examine the adversary system itself, explaining how the roles of the judge and lawyers lead to a failure in the system. Finally, I look at why the adversary system is thought to be important, as well as how, when coupled with the free market, it prevents a pro se litigant’s access to justice. Ultimately, I argue the adversary system is not justified and needs to be changed or replaced with something less dignity-threatening.
Adversary system (Law) , Dignity , Justice , Pro se representation , Right to counsel , Rule of law