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Represent Yourself in Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case [Paperback]

Paul Bergman , Sara J. Berman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 2, 2010 1413312691 978-1413312690 7
Prepare and present a winning civil court case!

Written in plain English, Represent Yourself in Court breaks down the trial process into easy-to-understand steps so that you can act as your own lawyer -- safely and efficiently. Find out what to say, how to say it, even where to stand when you address the judge and jury.

Armed with these simple but thorough instructions, you'll be well prepared to achieve good results, without the cost of an attorney. Find out how to:

  • file court papers
  • handle depositions and interrogatories
  • comply with courtroom procedures
  • pick a jury
  • prepare your evidence and line up witnesses
  • present your opening statement and closing argument
  • cross-examine hostile witnesses
  • understand and apply rules of evidence
  • locate, hire and effectively use expert witnesses
  • make and respond to your opponent's objections
  • get limited help from an attorney as needed
  • monitor the work of an attorney if you decide to hire one

    Whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant, this book will help you confidently handle a divorce, personal injury case, landlord/tenant dispute, breach of contract, small business dispute or any other civil lawsuit.

    The 7th edition is completely updated to include the latest rules and court procedures and more sample documents to help guide you through your case.

  • Editorial Reviews


    An excellent resource that outlines what's involved in representing yourself in court -- from presenting evidence to the rules of cross examination. (New Orleans Times-Picayune 20090101)

    This book was a godsend and I felt much more confident after following the advice found therein. I'm proud to inform you I won the case in the first five minutes.... (J. W., Tennessee Colony, TX 20090101)

    Highly recommended for even modest legal self-help collections. (Library Journal 20090101) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    From the Publisher

    Many disputes are too big for small claims court, but too small to justify a lawyer's fee. Fortunately, you can handle your own case -- from the start to finish. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    Product Details

    • Series: Represent Yourself in Court
    • Paperback: 552 pages
    • Publisher: NOLO; 7 edition (November 2, 2010)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1413312691
    • ISBN-13: 978-1413312690
    • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 8.1 x 10.4 inches
    • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

    More About the Author

    Paul Bergman is a Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law and a recipient of a University Distinguished Teaching Award. His recent books include Reel Justice: The Courtroom Goes to the Movies (Andrews & McMeel); Trial Advocacy: Inferences, Arguments, Techniques (with Moore and Binder, West Publishing Co.); and Represent Yourself In Court and The Criminal Law Handbook (both with Sara Berman, Nolo). He has also published numerous articles in law journals, and regularly gives presentations on how law and lawyers are portrayed in film.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
    Very informative.... but not quite detailed enough.

    You cannot use this book alone to go to trial... or even to file a Complaint or a Motion. It gives general explanations but seriously misses a beat in the details. It would be more accurate if Nolo sold this as a supportive "basic knowledge" book and NOT a "how to try your case", book.

    And as a suggestion I would say that they should have more detailed books that are customized per states? That actually get into the nitty gritty, for instance, how to actually fill out a Complaint Cover Sheet? ect. This book just tells you you need to start your Lawsuit by filing a Complaint. Thats hardly an explanation of how to actually fill out the forms, what each form means, ect.

    NOLO is a wonderful resource... but they could be SO much bigger and better.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, confidence building. November 5, 2008
    I recommend this book to anyone with any kind of suit to file in court...and especially if you hire a lawyer. This way, you can stay up to speed on the process of what is going on, and what your lawyer should be doing. The book goes into enough detail to explain the important things, but not so much detail that you fall asleep trying to muddle through. I recommend starting anywhere inside and reading anything you have any questions about.

    It is a real eye opener, unfortunately, if you have a lazy lawyer who is just phoning your case in. With this book in your arsenal, you will know what is expected of your barrister! Enjoy. This book is recommended if you are even THINKING of suing someone or going to court for any reason. In my case, I found out that my lawyer was 1)Overcharging me a great deal and 2) Not doing his homework and 3) Not fighting for me in court nearly as hard as was possible. As a result, I fired that firm and hired another one for the appeal.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars How to Represent Yourself in Court May 5, 2009
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    This is a great book. If you are going to court or going through a child custody case this is a great book especially if you represent yourself.
    Sometimes it may be preferrable to pay an attorney to advise you rather than represent you in court. This saves court costs. Therefore this book is a great aid in helping to prepare yourself. Even if you have never gone to court this book is full of knowldege to help you in case you do.
    Very useful and practical information.
    Comment | 
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    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A rare five star rating from me December 25, 2010
    Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    The American legal system is full of arcane terminology, obscure rules, and unexpected perils for everyone involved. If you have been sued, or intend to sue, you should read this book before you do anything else. Nolo press has once again performed an invaluable service to the American public by presenting the basic information about court proceedings in civil cases. I have done extensive searching, and have found nothing comparable to this book. This is a well written introduction to the legal knowledge that you will need before going to court. Whether you try to represent yourself in small claims, or hire a professional litigator to work on your behalf, you should know what to expect, how to prepare, and how to understand what happens. If you are like me, you seek understanding, and you want it available for future reference. A lawyer would be happy to sit down and explain all of this to you, at the going legal rate (about $400 per hour in Northern California), but this book will do a better job, for a lot less money.

    Like most Nolo Press books, this one is presented in plain English, with clear, unadorned prose, and a logical layout. You don't need a legal background to understand this material, because it is aimed at those of us who have no legal knowledge. You don't need to read the whole book either, just those portions that are relevant to your needs. The general organization of the book is easily seen from the table of contents, and the excellent glossary and index help to keep key points in focus.

    Most people wouldn't voluntarily read a book about the inner workings of the legal system, but when you are involved in a lawsuit, this will become fascinating reading.
    Read more ›
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    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great Resource for The Pro Se Litigant January 1, 2011
    Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    Review of NOLO's: "Represent Yourself in Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case."

    This text (7th Edition) is probably the most concise yet in-depth legal resource for the pro se litigant. At 530 pages broken down into 23 chapters covering the entire litigation process this text provides the valuable information that a person wishing to represent themselves must know. This text is designed to stand alone, however if the reader desires a more detailed legal explanation there are suggestions to further his or her knowledge throughout. In addition the text is replete with procedural examples on how to draft complaints, etc. For the nominal fee the text costs a pro se litigant can be educated very fast with authority. I would also recommend this text for those who have retained legal counsel but need information from which to provide oversight on their respective case. Highly recommended. I would grant six stars if I could. A fantastic resource that should belong in every public law library at a minimum.
    Comment | 
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    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    In my opinion, this book contains too much information. I think it is good for those who have one or two issues when going to court, but for someone new to the court system to have to read this book is too much. It literally talks about the design of the courtroom, courtroom personnel, and so forth. This is one of those "forest for the trees" type books. In other words, you can't get a true picture of the court system because there are too many trees in the way.

    My recommendation:

    If you are panicking about the whole idea of going to court, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!

    If you have questions about particular issues related to going to court, then DO READ THIS BOOK!
    Comment | 
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Quick and Great quality.
    Cost 1/10th the price the library was charging me to replace the books and were like new quality just like advertised.
    Published 2 months ago by Louis B Stowell
    4.0 out of 5 stars Good Advice!
    This book was helpful to me, and I ended up using the information to submit my own case in federal court. Read more
    Published 3 months ago by Teach4Life
    5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfied consumer / Pro Se
    Im still reading through the book and have other friends who have completed it already so I know it will meet my expectations.
    Published 4 months ago by RODNEY SMITH
    5.0 out of 5 stars Worked for me
    I recommend this if you are representing yourself in a dispute or some small matter. It worked for me. However, if you commit a crime, I would not recommend using this. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by SavingaDime
    4.0 out of 5 stars needed for trail with or without a lawyer
    This is a great resource to stay on top of your case and be prepared for court. Even with legal representation this helps you make sure you are aware of what is going on in your... Read more
    Published 6 months ago by john david wills
    5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you NOLO !
    By means of this book, studying it and following all the directions, I was able to win many child support/custody cases. Up to date, Trustworthy. Read more
    Published 8 months ago by Sarah Brownell
    3.0 out of 5 stars Good for some, not so great for others
    This is a massive book with lots of info. While somewhat organized info, it is still difficult to navigate and very initimating to even open and begin. Read more
    Published 8 months ago by Cindy K
    5.0 out of 5 stars Representing myself
    I have found this reference very helpful in representing myself in a civil trial. Its a lot to read by the style is easy to comprehend and provides many good examples that often... Read more
    Published 11 months ago by G Vandermark
    4.0 out of 5 stars Family Court
    I bought this for Family Court, and I thought the section dedicated to it was good for what I needed. Read more
    Published 11 months ago by Renee Rodriguez
    5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed explanation of the process
    This book is well written and covers the process well.While I am not a lawyer myself, I have done most of my legal work myself. This book will be a great help, no doubt. Read more
    Published 14 months ago by J. Mathis
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