Rare Pro Per Success

Statistics reveal a small minority of appeals succeed, and pro per success if even more rare, with the percentage of successful appeals by incarcerated, pro per litigants perhaps reduced to several places to the right of the decimal point. However, lightning struck twice for incarcerated appellant Purvis Holloway in Holloway v. Quetel (B259622, Dec. 14, 2015), in which 2/7 reversed a second judgment of dismissal in his on-going quest to seek unpaid rent and damages. Holloway's earlier reversal followed the trial court's erroneous ruling -- on its own motion -- striking his complaint for failure to state a cause of action after obtaining a default. The Court of Appeal reversed the order, directing the trial court to reinstate the original complaint. Thereafter, plaintiff attempted to obtain his default judgment, filing various pleadings, to no avail, the trial court ruling those documents did not comply with various court rules, eventually directing judgment be entered in the defendants' favor. The Court of Appeal reversed, recounting not only the correct procedure for securing a default judgment but also explaining the trial court's obligation in cases "initiated by an incarcerated and self-represented litigant." Acknowledging the "difficult balance" between the duty to ensure the litigant had the opportunity to be heard without assuming "the role of advocate or partisan," the panel concluded that, despite the trial court's patience, the court had erred in failing to specify deficiencies in the pleadings and had, itself, misstated the rules. It reversed the judgment, remanding the matter so that appellant could continue his quest for back rent. Holloway not only contains a helpful discussion of civil procedure and judicial obligations, but also gives heart -- but hopefully not too much encouragement -- to pro per appellants trying to navigate the judicial maze. Read the opinion: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B259622.PDF