propria persona

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Propria persona, often abbreviated as pro per, is a phrase referring to pro se litigants according to the US Courts. Pro se litigants are individuals representing themselves without the benefit of a lawyer.

Individuals who wish to represent themselves in a criminal trial forgo many of the traditional benefits associated with the right of counsel. Thus, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Faretta v. California, wrote that individuals must knowingly and intelligently forgo these benefits. Individuals do not need to have the skill and experience of a lawyer to knowingly and intelligently forgo representation, but they should be aware of the disadvantages of self-representation so that the records establish that they knew what they were doing and that their choice was made with their “eyes open.”

[Last updated in August of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]