Representing Yourself in Your Debt Collection Lawsuit? 3 Reasons You Should Reconsider

by John Skiba
Contact

Arizona Debt Collection lawsuit

Many people who find themselves being sued by a debt collector forgo hiring a lawyer and represent themselves in court.  I understand for many people this is a necessity.  As a lawyer I can’t work for free (my wife and kids would likely object :)), but most don’t have a lot of extra money laying around to throw at a lawyer.

So, they trudge on into the unknown maze that can be the Arizona judicial system, hoping to make an adequate defense and not screw things up.

Regardless of whether your debt collection lawsuit is just starting or whether your trial is imminent, the following are three (3) reasons you may want to reconsider representing yourself:

(1)  The Court Will Assume that You Know the Court Rules

Often the only experience people have with the Arizona court system is Judge Judy or trials they have seen on TV.  What you don’t see on TV is that courts are governed by a complex set of rules and deadlines.

If you don’t abide by the court’s rules your case can be over before it starts.  Missing deadlines in court can have serious consequences.

And the kicker is the court is required by Arizona law to treat you the same as they do the attorney for the debt collector.  The attorney for the debt collector is a repeat player in this game.  They will know the rules and deadlines inside and out.

You, on the other hand, will likely not be able to scratch the surface of what it is you need to know to adequately represent yourself.  You will be required to know and understand the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure (or Arizona Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure), and the Arizona Rules of Evidence.  Not only that, but in order to win your case you will have to have a solid understanding of the cases that have been decided on those rules and how they will apply to your case.

The short of it is, there is a lot of information you need to know to be able to adequately represent yourself.  And this is another case of what you don’t know can and will hurt your case.

(2)  The Time Commitment is Extensive

There is a reason being a lawyer is a full time job – it takes a lot of time.  This is especially true if you aren’t already familiar with the rules and procedures that are involved in defending a civil lawsuit.  There is the time it takes to draft the documents, to study the rules, to review the debt buyers’ documents, traveling to court to file documents, preparing for trial, traveling to and attending status conferences and the trial.

The point is, I meet with people all the time who are representing themselves in their debt collection lawsuit and they all tell me the same thing – it has taken over their lives.  If you are going to represent yourself you need to be prepared the workload.

(3)  Litigation is Stressful

Litigation is stressful.  Defending a debt collection lawsuit is like being in college all over again – nothing but deadlines and term papers.  The Rules of Civil Procedure that govern civil cases lay out all types of deadlines that must be complied with.  If you miss a deadline there can be severe consequences, even having judgment entered against you.

Further, the documents (or briefs) that you submit to the court need to be substantive.  You can’t merely state that you don’t owe the debt or that you should win, you have to put up a defense and support it with facts and case law.

There is a lot on the line when you are defending your case in court.  A misstep along the way could end up costing you big time.

I know this article is somewhat self-serving. After all, if you aren’t representing yourself you will need to hire a lawyer.  But my intention is to give a little bit of insight in to what you are getting yourself into when you try and representing yourself in court.  It is no fun paying money to a lawyer, but in the end, it may be the best money you can spend.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© John Skiba, Arizona Consumer Law Group, PLC | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

John Skiba
Contact
more
less

Arizona Consumer Law Group, PLC on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!