In the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, pro se litigants (people who do not have a lawyer) must follow the same rules and procedures as litigants who are represented by a lawyer. These rules include deadlines ordered by the Court and payment of all required filing and court fees. It is important to read all of the information on this page very carefully and to review the resources available on the Court’s Representing Yourself pages so that you are better prepared to represent yourself in your pending litigation.
Federal & Local Rules
Before you file a case, you should begin by reviewing the local and federal rules that govern the filing of a case in this Court. A self-represented person is bound by the federal rules and all applicable local rules. Sanctions for failing to follow these rules include but are not limited to entry of default judgment or dismissal with prejudice. Local Rule 83.8(a). This means that your case could be dismissed and you could be prohibited from re-filing. Rules, orders and statutes can be viewed on the Court’s Rules, Orders & Statutes page.
The Court expects people representing themselves to review the following legal rules before filing their cases:
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Fed. R. Civ. P.”) are the rules that all parties are expected to use during their case and in preparation for and during a trial in federal court. You can view the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure at www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp.
The Federal Rules of Evidence (“Fed. R. Evid.”) are the rules that describe what evidence is allowed and how it can be used in a civil trial. Evidence can include witness testimony, documents, and other documents or information. You can view a copy of the Federal Rules of Evidence at www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre. As you build your case, you will need to verify that you will be allowed to present the evidence that you want to use in court. Not everything that was said during the course of a dispute that gives rise to a civil action is admissible in court. Documents that cannot be authenticated may not be admissible, for example. It is important to closely review the Federal Rules of Evidence and ensure that your evidence will be permitted by the Court.
Each District in the federal system also maintains local rules that add to or refine the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Generally speaking, you need to follow these rules regarding how and when you file motions or other documents with the Court. These rules also cover the types of information you may request from other parties, scheduling orders, pre-trial court appearances, hearings, and many other aspects of trial practice in Montana federal court. You should familiarize yourself with these rules. You can view or download a copy of the District Court of Montana's Local Rules at: https://www.mtd.uscourts.gov/court-info/local-rules-and-orders. You can also request a copy from the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk's Office contact information is available here.