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The Guidelines were developed specifically for interactions with self-represented litigants in civil cases in which there is no right to counsel. Although the Guidelines may be a helpful resource in criminal cases and civil cases in which there is a right to counsel, they must be applied in light of the special considerations those cases present.
The Guidelines are advisory. The issues and challenges presented by self-represented litigants may vary in different court departments. Judges, therefore, are encouraged to use the Guidelines in a way that best suits the needs of their court and the litigants before them. To the extent that there is any conflict between the Guidelines and the Code of Judicial Conduct, the Code governs.
(1) This Commentary is intended to supply suggestions and resources for judges who wish to exercise their discretion consistent with the Guidelines. It was authored by the Subcommittee on Judicial Guidelines of the Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee on Self-Represented Litigants, and endorsed by the full Committee. It has not been reviewed by the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court.