Vexatious Pro Se Civil Litigants in the Massachusetts Courts

32 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2007

Date Written: 2006


The paper considers the problem of imposing sanctions against vexatious litigants. Self-represented litigants are not sensitive to the sanctions normally applied to counsel for bringing frivolous actions, and indigent litigants are not sensitive to fee-shifting or fines.

I examine the tension between due process and the need for the smooth operation of the courts, look at some of the individual litigants' histories, and collect every extant order in two Massachusetts counties.

I then turn to a comparison of various statutory solutions and close by recommending a Model Rule for the Massachusetts courts that avoids the pitfalls of the statutes and also finds a balance between the competing interests.

Keywords: pro se, civil litigants, pre-filing orders, vexatious, inherent power, Massachusetts, judicial administration

Suggested Citation

Donaldson, J. Caleb, Vexatious Pro Se Civil Litigants in the Massachusetts Courts (2006). Available at SSRN: or

J. Caleb Donaldson (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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