can you be pro se in appellate court

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can you be pro se in appellate court

I’m a Trustee for a trust in NJ, it was in litigation my attorney asked to the court to quit because I owed his fees. The judge said I needed to find another attorney and said because I am a trustee of the trust I couldn’t proceed pro se. I want to appeal the settlement and I applied for pro se. So, can I continue pro se in appeals court or do I have to listen to the lower court and find an attorney. If I proceeded any way can I get into trouble?

Asked on September 21, 2017 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You cannot proceed pro se because you are not representing yourself. A non-lawyer may only represent him/herself regardless of what court it is--trial court, family court, probate court, appellate court, state Supreme Court, etc. The trust is not you, however: even though you are the trustee and have authority over the trust, because you and the trust are still distinct entities, you must hire an attorney to represent the trust, the same way the sole member or shareholder of an LLC or corporation has hire a lawyer to represent his/her business, since the LLC or corporation is a separate and distinct legal entity from the owner.
You simply will not be allowed to represent the trust, unless you are also an attorney.


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