Pro-Se

So You Want to Represent Yourself

*Please note the following content is informational only and is not meant to be construed as legal advice.  To obtain legal advice, seek an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.

 

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What is Pro Se?

The term “Pro Se” refers to someone who represents themselves in a court proceeding without the assistance or representation of a lawyer.  Another term used to refer to that person is “Pro Persona”. So now you know the term, but it is one of many that you need to know if you are going to proceed to file your own complaint against the mortgage lender, servicer or any other party claiming an interest in your home.

Few will stop to explain the process nor the terms to you, and there is a bias against those unfamiliar with the legal process.  

If, due to cost or concern, you feel you should file on your own behalf, without the assistance of someone familiar with the process, there are some things you should know.

Do the Research:

Look up the laws that are applicable to your case using reputable sources.  Remember that there are federal regulations governing mortgage origination and servicing and there are state regulations.  In case of a discrepancy, Federal law overrides the state law. To know which laws apply, you also need to know the source of your mortgage, not who lent the funds, but who securitized the loan.

Who issued your loan?

When you bought your home, you applied for a loan to fund the purchase.  A bank, broker or lender walked you through the process, requesting documents throughout the application process.  An underwriter made sure you fit into the lending criteria not just for the entity lending you the money, but also for the party on the secondary market, where the bank, broker or lender planned to sell the financial instrument you call your mortgage note.  To securitize their financial risk, a mortgage lien is filed against the property each time the note is sold. Before the financial crisis, notes were sold multiple times, making it difficult to keep track of who had the note.

Knowing who lent you money, can also guide you to which regulatory agency oversees your transaction.  For instance, if you borrower from a National Bank, it is FDIC insured, and is overseen by the OCC. State charted banks are scrutinized by the state banking authority in that state.  The CFPB directly regulates commercial banks with over $10 billion in assets. Get the idea? Each regulatory agency issues slightly different regulations guiding process of origination and foreclosure of mortgage loans.

Sue-My-Lender-Guide-Small

When was your loan issued?

Following the financial crisis, new regulations introduced both at the federal level and by many states tightened the criteria for filing foreclosure against homeowners.  That means that when your mortgage was originated may affect which laws you are protected by. Other newly introduced regulations cover every mortgagor (borrower) in the country.  Attorneys who practice in this area of law are familiar with which laws cover you.  You need to know this information too

What is a Cause of Action?

If you are filing a complaint against, or filing suit against your lender, your reason for doing so needs to have a legal basis.  What law do you feel was broken? How can you support your claim?

If you are defending yourself from a complaint against you, filed by your lender, you need to familiarize yourself with which causes of action listed in the complaint are justified, and which can be argued legitimately.  You must be able to back away from the emotional distress enough to analyze the case against you and your best defense against it.

Steps in suing a Lender:

  1. Determine your cause(s) of action. (how the lender/servicer/broker/bank broke the law)

  2. Write a complaint in correct format against the financial entity, following the structure approved by the court where you are filing the complaint.  \Number each paragraph if you are drafting an answer to the original complaint. Use double spacing for entire body of the pleading. Capitalize, underline and bold the headings for your pleading.  Include page numbers at the bottom center of each page.

  3. Be prepared to pay to file.  Check with your local court so you know the costs of filing suit.  It is always a good idea to get a time stamped copy of everything you file for your own records.

  4. Keep complete notes.  Log every action, call and conversation you have regarding your case for reference.

  5. Make sure you serve the parties correctly.  Regular mail does not usually suffice as service.

Steps in Answering a Complaint:

  1. Write a complaint in correct format against the financial entity, following the structure approved by the court where you are filing the complaint.  \Number each paragraph if you are drafting an answer to the original complaint. Use double spacing for entire body of the pleading. Capitalize, underline and bold the headings for your pleading.  Include page numbers at the bottom center of each page.

  2. Make sure you serve the parties correctly.  Regular mail does not usually suffice as service.
  3. In your answer, clearly respond to each item of the complaint, explaining why legally it is not valid.

  4. Keep complete notes.  Log every action, call and conversation you have regarding your case for reference.

There are complaint templates available online, but there are nuances none of the online sources can properly convey.  Legal education, experience and application make a big difference. If you are able, seek an attorney. If you still wish to proceed pro se, best wishes.

Provided By The Law Office Of:
Michael Kennedy Karlson, Esq.
212-569-9597

No statements or facts found on this site are to be mistaken for legal advice. Any information on this site may not be up to date. The information on this site pertains to New York law only. Foreclosure law and practice in other jurisdictions is different, and generally happens faster. I practice in State and Federal Courts in New York State. I do not practice outside New York State. This site in no way establishes an attorney/client relationship. We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. We also handle many cases that never involve bankruptcy. The choice is for the client to make.