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
defendant.

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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.


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