General Litigation Newsletters

Judgments by Confession and Judgments by Warrant of Attorney

A confession of judgment means the entry of a judgment on the confession (admission) of the defendant, usually a debtor. The defendant admits his or her liability for the debt. Judgments by confession are void as against public policy in some states, while other states permit judgments by confession. A warrant of attorney is a written document that gives an attorney the power to confess judgment against the defendant on a debt.

Privacy and Public Access to Court Records

Court records include the case file of a lawsuit, records of any hearings, and information the court or clerk court prepares in connection with any judicial proceeding. A court's management information and data (budgets, reports, and statistics) are also considered court records. Since computers make it easy to gather and store information, many courts have developed databases of information. This database is also considered a court record.

Representing Yourself in Court

If you represent yourself in court and don't use an attorney, you are acting "pro se." Pro se is a Latin term that means on your own behalf. In legal terms, you are considered a self-representing party.

State Appellate Court Performance Standards

The appellate court system's role is to review the decisions of trial courts and administrative agencies. Most states have a two-tier appellate court system that consists of an intermediate appellate court (usually called the court of appeals) and a court of last resort (usually called the supreme court). The trial court or administrative decision is first appealed to the intermediate appellate court. A further appeal is then available to the court of last resort. The Appellate Court Performance Standards Commission was set up to recommend performance standards for state appellate courts.

The Court's Management of High-Profile Cases

Courts are sometimes faced with managing high-profile or notorious cases. The media frenzy surrounding such trials can make it a challenge to provide a fair trial, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Besides celebrity cases, the courts face special challenges in handling brutal murder cases.