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Frequently Asked Questions
Why can’t the Clerk’s Office or Pro Se Staff Attorneys give me legal advice?
Legal advice should only be given by lawyers to their clients. The members of the Clerk’s Office and the Pro Se Staff Attorneys are court employees and as such are prohibited by law from representing litigants. All court employees must remain neutral in order to preserve the integrity and independence of the court.
What do I need to do to file a federal lawsuit?
Please consult the Guide for Pro Se Litigants for information on how to file your case in federal court.
Can I file my complaint in any divisional office?
You may file you complaint initially in any of the three divisional offices. After the case is filed, the court will tell you where to file all future papers.
Can I get back any documents I file with the Clerk’s Office?
All documents that are filed with the Clerk’s Office become part of the court record and cannot be returned. If you attach any exhibits to your pleadings or other motions or memoranda, you should file a copy of the exhibit and keep the original for your records. You should also keep a copy of anything you file with the court for your records. If you need to obtain copies from the court, please consult the fee schedule for the applicable charge.
I do not have a computer or typewriter. Can I write my papers in long-hand?
Yes, you may handwrite your documents as long as the papers are legible. All documents must be on 8 ½" x 11" paper.
Can I file my papers electronically?
Pro se litigants may not file electronically without prior approval. Please consult the Guide for Pro Se Litigants for more information about filing electronically.
Does the court accept personal checks or credit card payments?
The court does accept personal checks, but cannot accept third-party checks. Checks should be made payable to Clerk, United States District Court. The Clerk’s Office also accepts money orders, cashier’s checks, cash and credit cards. Credit cards may be used only to pay the filing fee. Please note that the Clerk’s Office does NOT make or keep change for cash payments. Please do not send cash through the mail.
Can I speak to the judge about my case?
You are prohibited from all private or "ex parte" communications with the judge to whom your case is assigned. Ex parte communication occurs when one of the parties to a lawsuit, or when that party’s attorney, exchanges information with the assigned judge without the opposing party being present or without the knowledge and consent of the opposing party. Because of this prohibition, a judge will refuse, with very limited exceptions, to speak or otherwise communicate with any party to the case. Unless you are appearing in court before the judge, all communications to the judge must be done in writing with a copy sent to the opposing party. You should consult the information you were provided about your judge’s individual preferences for more information about how to communicate with chambers.
Will the judge answer my letter?
Generally, the Clerk’s Office will respond to letters from pro se litigants. It is up to the individual judge whether to respond to a particular letter. To ensure that requests for action by the court are promptly addressed, you should include any request for court action in a motion, not in a letter.
Will the judge accept faxes? Can I file my papers by fax?
Most judges do not accept faxes, but you should consult your judge’s individual preferences for more information about how to communicate with chambers. The court does not permit filing by fax.
Why has my case been reassigned to another judge?
There are many reasons why a case is reassigned to a new judge–most of which involve the internal administration of the court. For instance, when a judge retires, passes away, or leaves the bench, the cases assigned to that judge must be reassigned to other District of Connecticut judges. In addition, when a new judge joins the bench, cases must be reassigned to the new judge. Furthermore, as part of the court’s general administrative functions, cases may be reassigned to different judges to equalize the caseload among the judges in the court.
How do I bring criminal charges against someone?
Only government prosecutors have the authority to bring criminal charges against someone. If you believe that you have been the victim of a crime or if you have knowledge of a crime that has been committed, you should contact the appropriate law enforcement official. If you believe the crime is a violation of federal law, you should contact the United States Attorney’s Office for the district in which the crime is alleged to have occurred. If you believe the crime is a violation of state law, you should contact the police or the State’s Attorney’s Office for the judicial district in which the crime is alleged to have occurred.