U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS building

Image from Shutterstock.com.

A former pro se litigant had some high-powered help when he asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider what kind of explanation courts must provide to unrepresented people.

Among those representing litigant William Bond were former Circuit Judge Richard Posner and Boies Schiller Flexner chair David Boies. The U.S. Supreme Court nonetheless denied cert Monday.

Bond had accused three federal judges of conspiring to throw a case. A federal judge had tossed Bond’s lawsuit and denied two motions seeking to amend it. After Posner took up the case, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at in Richmond, Virginia, ruled that the federal court did not abuse its discretion by denying the second motion.

The cert petition identifies the issue as whether a district court must provide a reason when denying a pro se litigant leave to amend a complaint when the reason can be gleaned from the litigation record. The district court order denying Bond’s second motion to amend had said it was based on reasons stated in an initial dismissal of the suit.

The cert petition had argued that the order didn’t provide an adequate explanation. “Absent notice of their pleading deficiencies,” the cert petition said, “very few pro se litigants can parse the record and identify how to successfully amend their complaints.”

Posner had abruptly retired from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago in 2017, citing boredom with judging and rebuffed efforts to aid pro se litigants. He went on to form a nationwide pro bono group to help pro se litigants.