Filing Without an Attorney (Pro Se)

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.  The Court and its employees cannot provide you with legal assistance nor can they assist you with filling out any related forms.
If you elect to 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.  Prior to filing a case Pro Se, please take the time to review the informational handbook titled “Representing Yourself in Federal District Court.”  The handbook provides information regarding jurisdiction and venue, preparing your complaint, service of process, proceeding In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”), motion practice, discovery, and preparation for trial.  The handbook also provides a list of definitions of frequently used court terminology.  You should also review the Frequently Asked Question tab as it may provide answers to any questions you may have.

This section also contains forms and instructions for filing several different types of cases on your own as well as some related pleadings.  You should review these forms prior to filing your case to determine which forms may best suit your needs.  You can submit your filings to the Court by the following means:

In Person – Filings can be dropped off with the Pro Se Unit at the Intake Area of Room C-151 of the Clerk’s Office at 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  If you are filing a new civil complaint, please arrive to the Pro Se Unit by 4:30 p.m. to allow time for review and processing of your documents.  For security reasons, the Clerk’s Office promptly closes to the public at 5:00 p.m. 

Mail – Filings can be mailed to the Pro Se Unit at Clerk’s Office, 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130.  

Electronically – Filings can be submitted to the Court through the Electronic Document Submission System (EDSS).  See the “EDSS” section for further instructions.

Disclaimer: the above 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.