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Filing Without an Attorney

Filing Without an Attorney – Civil Cases Only

Pro Se Litigants

The information on this site provides information to individuals who are representing themselves in the Western District of Kentucky without the assistance of an attorney. This website is intended as an informative and practical resource for these litigants and is not a substitute for legal advice from an experienced attorney. The information is procedural in nature and should be read in conjunction with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the  Local Rules of this Court.

When you are without an attorney, you are proceeding "pro se." If you represent yourself in Court, you are called a "pro se litigant" or a "self-represented litigant." "Pro se" is a Latin term, meaning "on one's own behalf “and a "litigant" is someone who is either suing someone or is being sued in court.

The right to appear pro se in a civil case in federal court is contained in a statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1654. Thus, anyone can appear pro se, and anyone who appears before the Court without an attorney is considered pro se. There are, however, certain limitations to self-representation, such as:

  • a pro se party cannot represent others
  • corporations and partnerships must be represented by an attorney.
  • a pro se litigant may not represent a class in a class action.
  • a non-attorney parent may not appear pro se on behalf of a child, except to appeal the denial of the child's social security benefits.

Computer terminals are available for use by pro se litigants in the Clerk’s Office in all four locations. The Clerk’s Office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.

If you need help finding a lawyer, you may want to contact the Kentucky Lawyer Referral Service at (502) 583-1801 or the Central Kentucky Lawyer Referral Service at (859) 225-8644 or the Northern Kentucky Bar Association Lawyer Referral Services at (859) 781-1525 or the Legal Aid Society at (502) 584-1254. The Court does not endorse the services of any attorney or legal services organization. 

Be advised that the Clerk and his employees are forbidden by law from giving you legal advice. Legal advice could be described but is not limited to: offering interpretation of rules; recommending a course of action; predicting a judicial officer's decision and interpreting the meaning or effect of any court order or judgment.

May File Documents by Email

Pursuant to General Order 20-04, self-represented litigants may file documents by email directed to The Court will accept filings from pro se litigants via email that comply with the following procedures:

  • Documents must be signed in electronic format (s/ Full Name) or signed by hand and scanned;


  • Documents to be filed must be ATTACHED to the email in either Microsoft Word or PDF format. Each document and exhibit must be a separate pdf or Microsoft Word document. Example: Amended Complaint (first doc), Exhibit A (second doc), Exhibit B (third doc) etc.;


  • The emails must be sent to; Any emailed filings sent to any other email address will be disregarded by the Clerk's Office;


  • The email must contain the filer's name, address, and telephone number;


  • For new cases, the subject line of the email must read "PRO SE FILING - NEW CASE";


  • For existing cases, the subject line of the email must read "PRO SE FILING - [include the case number]";




May Receive Email Notice of and Electronic Access to Documents Filed in Your Case

If you are representing yourself in a case pending before this Court and are not presently incarcerated, you are eligible to receive notification by e-mail when documents are filed in your case. This service is free of charge and provides you with access to your documents as soon as they are filed. For more information read the Clerk’s Notice regarding this process. If you wish to receive email notice, read and complete our registration form.