If you wish to initiate a civil action in federal court, but do not have an attorney to represent you, you may file it on your own. Filing a civil action on your own is called proceeding "Pro Se." A civil action is the only type of case you can file in federal court and is different from a criminal action which can only be initiated by government officials. You do not have the right to an attorney in a civil case and the Court only appoints attorneys in certain circumstances. Because you do not have the right to an attorney and may not be appointed one, you must be ready to pursue your case to completion.
This section contains information to help you if you decide to proceed Pro Se. This section contains forms, frequently asked questions, and links to other internet sites. There is also information where you may be able to get legal help. The Court and its employees, however, cannot give you legal help or advice. If you file a case Pro Se, you will have to follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and this Court's Local Rules the same as any attorney who represents someone.
Here is a description of the information contained in this section:
Forms - under Pro Se, this section has forms and instructions for filing several different types of cases on your own. It also contains Sample Formats which you can use as a guide for you to properly structure a Civil Complaint, Motions and Pleadings. You should look at these forms before you file your case as there may be forms and/or instructions you can use to assist you.
Links - this section contains links to other internet web sites that could be helpful to you. Included in this section are links to sites where you can find information about attorneys, legal aid organizations, federal and local rules, federal courts, outside agencies, pro se sites, and legal research.
Disclaimer: this Information is not intended to take the place of an attorney's legal advice. It also may not contain information that addresses your particular case or problem.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, pro se filers can submit filings to the Court through the following means:
In Person – The Pro Se Unit is open and available to the public. The office is in the Intake Area of Room C-151 of the Clerk’s Office at 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130. Currently, entrance into the Clerk’s Office requires patrons to provide proof of vaccination, or a negative PCR test taken within the last 72 hours, or a negative rapid test that can be taken on premises. If any patron is not able to comply with these directives, a drop box has been set up in the lobby of the Courthouse so that pro se filers can deposit filings. The Pro Se Unit can be reached at (504) 589-7751 for remote assistance.
Mail – Filings can be mailed to the Pro Se Unit at Clerk’s Office, 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130.
Email – Filings can be emailed to the Pro Se Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax – Filings can be faxed to the Pro Se Unit at (504) 310-8159
Any pleadings that are emailed to the Court should be sent in PDF format. The Pro Se Unit will not correspond with pro se filers via email or fax.