FAQs: Pro Se Filers

  • I tried to file a motion with the Court but it was returned to me because it did not contain a “certificate of service”. What is a certificate of service?

    Each document that you file with the Court must contain your signature and a certificate of service. A certificate of service indicates to the Court that you have delivered a copy of the document to the other parties. The certificate of service states the name and address of the attorney or party served with the document, the manner of service, and the date of service. Example:

    Certificate of Service
    I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing was mailed to
    [Opposing Party or Counsel] at [Address] on. [Date]
    [Your Signature]

  • Can Clerk’s Office personnel answer legal questions or provide legal advice?

    No, Clerk’s Office personnel may not give legal advice. The Clerk’s Office will not be able to advise you on such things as:

    • explaining the meaning of rules;
    • answering questions as to whether this is the proper court in which to file your complaint;
    • commenting on your case;
    • recommending how you should proceed;
    • predicting a decision a judicial officer might make; or
    • answering questions as to how long you have to file a complaint in this court.
  • Will the Court provide me with an attorney?

    In civil proceedings the Court does not have to appoint counsel for you and in most cases it does not. You can, however, ask the Court to appoint counsel by filing a motion for appointment of counsel. If you file a motion for appointment of counsel, you must still proceed with your case and not wait for the Court to make its decision on your motion.

  • Can you provide me with the names of attorneys who could help me?

    No, the Clerk’s Office cannot provide you with the name of an attorney. In Iowa there are limited resources and programs available to provide free legal assistance.

    Iowa Legal Aid has ten regional offices that serve various areas of the state. When you call to request assistance, you will be screened for eligibility. A client is eligible for assistance if their income falls within the established guidelines and if the case fits within the priorities set by the program. Not all clients who financially qualify will be able to receive assistance because of the limited staff or volunteer resources of the programs. An intake interview of your case may take place. The program will then assess your case to determine if they may be able to assist you. Your case may be handled by one of the staff attorneys at the program. In some circumstances your case will be referred to a private attorney who has volunteered their time to a pro bono program.

    Iowa Legal Aid, Administrative Headquarters
    1111 9th Street, Suite 230
    Des Moines, IA 50314
    (515) 243-2151