Growing Number of Bankruptcy Cases Are Filed by Nonlawyers
In the past few years, the number of pro se filed bankruptcy cases has grown at a rapid rate. That rate is growing faster than the overall number of bankruptcy cases is growing, in fact. Pro se filers represent themselves without the assistance of legal counsel or a non-awyer bankruptcy petition preparer. During the year that ended on June 30, 2011, nearly 10 percent of all bankruptcy cases that were filed were filed by pro se individuals.
What Kind of Statistics Are Compiled Concerning Pro Se Bankruptcy Filers?
The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts started to collect statistical information about pro se filers in the bankruptcy system from bankruptcy courts across the country. Those statistics were first compiled in 2005, around the time of passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. The Administrative Office’s statistics reveal that non-pro-se bankruptcy petition filings rose 98 percent over the past five-year period. During that same five years, pro se bankruptcy filings skyrocketed in a larger leap, growing 187 percent. The western United States served as home to the largest and most rapid increases in pro se bankruptcy filings.
What Courts Are Dealing with the Most Pro Se Bankruptcy Filers?
Many of the top 10 courts facing the most pro se bankruptcy filings are located in the western United States. Topping the list is the Central District of California Bankruptcy Court, where the metropolitan Los Angeles area is housed. More than 27 percent of the cases in that California jurisdiction were filed without the assistance of legal counsel. The next places on the list are the Eastern District of California and Arizona Bankruptcy Courts. The Eastern District of California administered 16.5 percent of its cases on behalf of pro se litigants, while the Arizona Bankruptcy Courts managed more than 20 percent of its cases for pro se filers. The Northern District of Georgia, Middle District of Florida, Northern District of California, Southern District of Florida, Nevada, Maryland, and Colorado Bankruptcy Courts round out the list of those courts handling the highest number of pro se bankruptcy filings over the last year.
How Do Bankruptcy Pro Se Filing Statistics Compare with Those of Other Court Proceedings?
During the year that ended on June 30, 2011, pro se filings in American courts amounted to 26 percent of all civil cases in federal district courts. That translates to just more than 75,000 cases. In terms of appeals, 49 percent of the appellate court caseload was undertaken by pro se litigants. Those percentages are significantly higher than the 9 percent of bankruptcy cases that are filed by pro se petitioners, which amounts to more than 130,000 and still represents a good chunk of the country’s overall judicial system workload.
Connect with an Attorney nowCall 877.913.7222