Yesterday, I attended a TennBarU CLE course, called “Creditors Practice: A View from the Bench.”
Aside from the opportunity to earn brownie points as a smiling audience member to a Judge’s speech, the program gave the opportunity to hear about general sessions (a.k.a. small claims court) practice from the judge’s perspective. These courts often deal with unrepresented parties, and the practices and procedures are often confusing. The fast paced practices of the Shelby County General Sessions Court have been dubbed the “Rocket Docket.”
A common refrain was the difficult task of working with unrepresented people who don’t understand their rights. When asked about the non-lawyers’ ability to defend themselves, one judge noted that most people are “confounded by the whole process” and “surprised that it’s not more like The People’s Court.”
The Judges all try to protect anyone from being taken advantage of, but, at the same time, there are too many cases for the Judges to look after the rights of all who appear before them. From a creditor’s perspective, dealing with a pro se litigant offers those same challenges, and it’s good to hear that our judges recognize and account for those difficulties as well.