How do I notify the court that I am representing myself in a civil matter?

03/08/2009 - Category:Courts - Pro Se - State: MA #15486

Full Question:

I need the proper form of a motion to proceed pro se for a civil matter in Massachusetts Appeals Court and I need to know on whom this must be served besides the court.


The sixth amendment guarantees to criminal defendants the right to assistance of counsel. Criminal defendants do, however, have the right to waive such assistance and appear pro se. In order for a criminal defendant to proceed pro see, the court will often have a hearing to determine whether the defendant is aware of the significance of doing so and can adequately represent himself or herself.

In civil cases, litigants have a statutory right, first embodied in the Judiciary Act of 1789, to represent themselves. Typically, if there was previously an attorney on the record as representing a party, the attorney will file a notice of withdrawal with the court and the party may proceed pro se without the permission of the court.

The following is an appellate court rule for MA:


(a) Content of Motions; Response; Reply.
Unless another form is elsewhere prescribed by these rules, an application for an order or other relief shall be made by filing a motion for such order or relief with proof of service on all other parties. The motion shall contain or be accompanied by any matter required by a specific provision of these rules governing such a motion, shall state with particularity the grounds on which it is based, and shall set forth the order or relief sought. If a motion is supported by briefs, affidavits, or other papers, they shall be served and filed with the motion. Any party may file a response in opposition to a motion other than one for a procedural order (for which see subdivision (b)) within 7 days after service of the motion, but motions authorized by Rule 6 may be acted upon after reasonable notice, and the appellate court or a single justice may shorten or extend the time for responding to any motion.
(b) Determination of Motions for Procedural Orders.
Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding paragraph as to motions generally, motions for procedural orders, including any motion under Rule 14(b), may be acted upon at any time, without awaiting a response thereto. Any party adversely affected by such action may request reconsideration, vacation, or modification of such action.
(c) Power of a Single Justice to Entertain Motions.
In addition to the authority expressly conferred by these rules or by law, a single justice may entertain and may grant or deny any request for relief which under these rules may properly be sought by motion, except that a single justice may not dismiss or otherwise determine an appeal or other proceeding, and except that the appellate court may provide by order or rule that any motion or class of motions shall be acted upon by the appellate court. The action of a single justice may be reviewed by the appellate court.
(d) Motions for New Trial in Capital Cases.
After the docketing of an appeal in a criminal case in which the defendant was convicted of murder in the first degree and until the filing of a rescript by the appellate court, a motion for a new trial pursuant to Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure 30 shall be filed in the appellate court and may be remitted to the trial judge for hearing and determination at such time as the appellate court may direct.
(e) Change of Counsel on Appeal in Criminal and Certain Non-criminal Cases.
If the defendant in a criminal case or any party in any other proceeding, excluding child welfare cases, in which counsel is required to be made available to such party pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:10 was represented by counsel at trial, trial counsel shall continue to represent that party on appeal until the trial court permits him to withdraw his appearance and until an appearance is filed by substitute counsel. If trial counsel wishes to withdraw, he shall, on the day upon which the notice of appeal is filed, file a motion to withdraw. Any motion under this provision shall be marked up by the trial counsel for hearing no later than seven days after filing. If the motion to withdraw is allowed, the judge shall assign the Committee for Public Counsel Services to provide representation according to the procedures established in Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:10.

Please see the information at the following links:

Please see the forms at the following links:

03/08/2009 - Category: Pro Se - State: MA #15486

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