By Jan Bergemann

Published August 2, 2019


As the saying goes: “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client!” Actually -- to be politically correct in today’s world -- that goes as well for any other gender.


I deal with these things now since more than twenty years, have even been involved in writing provisions for the bills, but I wouldn’t dare to go into court by myself again.


It’s not only the interpretation of the statutes, it’s as well court procedures and formalities. And, as I have seen over the years, most judges are not willing to help pro-se litigants dealing with procedures. I tried it once, many years ago, regarding a record request. I was well prepared – so I thought – and proudly quoted the provision of the Florida statutes, only to be interrupted by the judge telling me to show him exactly where in the Florida statutes this quote of mine can be found. Well, as you can imagine, I didn’t bring the official book with the statutes and when I said so – I had only printed out the quote – the judge started telling me that I shouldn’t quote anything I couldn’t show proof of. I wasn’t prepared, because where I come from the judges have the law books handy when sitting on the bench. An attorney sitting in the audience helped me out by giving me his law book, which made the judge finally calm down. I won in the end, but after that experience I never tried “pro-se” again.


While arbitration is a lot easier, you should still be sure that you are fully aware of all the little “tricks of the trade.” Make sure you study case law and other arbitration rulings before you dare to take on the other side that is definitely represented by counsel.


Remember, yes, it cost money to hire an attorney, but rather spend the money for hiring an attorney instead of losing a good case because you didn’t know all the little tricks needed in court and pay for the opposing party’s legal fees. That can be a lot more expensive than hiring your own attorney!

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Jan Bergemann Jan Bergemann is president of Cyber Citizens For Justice, Florida 's largest state-wide property owners' advocacy group. CCFJ works on legislation to help owners living in community  

associations. He moved to Florida in 1995 - hoping to retire. He moved into a HOA, where the developer cheated the homeowners and used the association dues for his own purposes. End of retirement!


CCFJ was born in the year 2000, when some owners met in Tallahassee - finding out that power is only in numbers. Bergemann was a member of Governor Jeb Bush's HOA Task force in 2003/2004.


The organization has two websites to inform interested Florida homeowners and condo owners:

News Website: http://www.ccfj.net/.

Educational Website: http://www.ccfjfoundation.net/.

We think that only owners can really represent owners, since all service providers surely have a different interest! We are trying to create owner-friendly laws, but the best laws are useless without enforcement. And enforcement is totally lacking in Florida !

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