The Corporate Pro Se Litigant
44 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2020 Last revised: 20 May 2021
Date Written: March 8, 2020
Corporations, partnerships, and all other business organizations cannot appear pro se in either criminal or civil proceedings. Business organizations must use a hired lawyer to defend lawsuits. This arbitrary and outdated rule has not been revisited in over 150 years. This Article is the first to lay out in detail the current state of corporate pro se rights. It then debunks the current rationales offered for the prohibition on corporate self-representation. Finally, it offers a novel argument that business organizations should be given a constitutional pro se right to litigate their own cases.
In doing this, it draws upon the importance of the individual constitutional due process rights that exist to protect against government deprivations of life and liberty. Individuals in the corporate context are equally at stake of deprivations of life and liberty given corporate lawsuits. These deprivations are particularly salient for non-executive employees. As such, this Article argues that if we really care about the individual pro se right, we should grant corporations a similar due process right.
Keywords: Corporate Law, Constitutional Law, Business Organizations, Due Process
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