United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
WESTERN HERITAGE INSURANCE COMPANY, an Arizona corporation, Plaintiff,
SLOPESIDE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC., a Montana corporation, MATTHEW FOLKMAN, individually and d/b/a JARAS CONSTRUCTION, Defendants.
NOTICE TO PRO SE DEFENDANT AND ORDER
L. CHRISTENSEN, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Matthew Folkman's letter of July
24, 2018, notifying the Court that Folkman does not intend to
retain counsel. (Doc. 27.) The Court deems the letter to be
Folkman's answer, as it includes Folkman's
representation that he "den[ies] the many allegations
made in this suit." (Doc. 27 at 1.)
has a statutory right to represent himself pro
28 U.S.C. § 1654. If his company, Jaras Construction, is
a sole proprietorship, Folkman may also appear on its behalf.
Sharemaster v. SEC, 847 F.3d 1057, 1066 n.4 (9th
Cir. 2017). However, if Jaras Construction is owned to any
degree by any individual or entity other than Folkman,
Folkman cannot represent the business entity, and Jaras
Construction must retain counsel if it is to appear in this
Court. Rowland v. Cal. Men's Colony, 506 U.S.
194, 201-02 (1993).
is strongly encouraged to seek representation immediately. A
federal court "rightly expects a lawyer to represent a
litigant. By its supervision of the bar and through its
reliance on the lawyers before it, the court is enabled to
function." C. E. Pope Equity Trust v. United
States, 818 F.2d 696, 698 (9th Cir. 1987). The Court and
all parties to this litigation-of course, most particularly
Folkman himself-would benefit from Folkman's
representation by counsel.
event that Folkman proceeds without an attorney, the Court
takes this opportunity to counsel Folkman of the obligations
that face him in this Court. All parties, whether represented
or not, are expected to know and to comply with the relevant
law and rules, including court orders, the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure,  the Federal Rules of Evidence,
this Court's Local Rules. The Court cannot and will not
offer legal advice to any litigant. Folkman must personally
sign and submit pleadings and other documents and participate
personally in all phases of the case. Failure to participate
will result in forfeiture of the right to participate.
is also advised that he may apply for the appointment of pro
bono counsel, but the Court notes that appointment is
extremely rare and that nothing in the record suggests that
the high standard for appointment is met. Moreover, even if
counsel is appointed, the scope of representation may be
limited. The Court is merely advising of the right to apply.
The better option, by far, is for Folkman to retain counsel
of his choosing.
will be considered only on a convincing demonstration by the
Defendant that he or she is financially unable to retain
counsel. To apply, Defendants must complete a detailed
financial affidavit under penalty of perjury. The affidavit
may be filed ex parte and under seal. It must be
completed and submitted with a motion for appointment of
counsel on or before December 6, 2018. The motion must also
address the other factors set forth in D. Mont. L.R. 83.6(c).
ORDERED that Folkman's July 24, 2018 letter is deemed his
Answer to the Complaint.
FURTHER ORDERED that on or before December 6, 2018, Folkman
may move for the appointment of pro bono counsel. He must
complete and attach to his motion the form affidavit
described above in Footnote 5. The affidavit must be
submitted under penalty of perjury. Leave to file the
affidavit ex parte and under seal is GRANTED, but the motion
itself must be served on opposing counsel.
FURTHER ORDERED that counsel for Folkman shall file a Notice
of Appearance on or before December 20, 2018. If Folkman has
not located and retained counsel before that date, Folkman
shall file a Notice stating that he will proceed pro se.
Whether filed by counsel or by Folkman, the Notice shall
state whether Jaras Construction is a sole proprietorship and
explain whether representation extends to both Folkman and
Jaras Construction. Counsel may be retained after December
20, 2018, but the Court is unlikely to grant a continuance to
allow new counsel to review this matter or to prepare a
response to a motion.
FURTHER ORDERED that Folkman (and, if applicable, Jaras
Construction) shall file responses to the pending motions for
summary judgment (Docs. 28 & 36) on or before January 21,
2018. All other deadlines remain in effect.
 Black's Law Dictionary defines
"pro se" as "for oneself; on one's own
behalf; without a lawyer." Black's Law
Dictionary (10th ...