In Defense of Defending Ourselves in Court

I read with grave concern the Nov. 14 opinion-page article, "Defending Yourself: Legal Cons, and Pros." Unfortunately, it presents only the rarefied perspective of a judge sitting up there on a Massachusetts Superior Court bench.

From my vantage point, sitting down here on a Boston Commons park bench, as a court-ordered homeless indigent woman with no place to sleep, I can verify that the pro se litigant often represents the purest form of advocacy in our American courts today.

Daring to risk the hazards inherent in this lonely type of advocacy, we believe fervently in the laws upon which our nation was founded. We grasp on to the United States Constitution with its Bill of Rights as our source of buoyancy when artful lawyers push us, drowning, into their sea of procedural technicalities and petty legal stratagems, which are merely channel markers of their corrupt system.

I am a defendant in forma pauperis, forced to proceed pro se in the courts of New York State. My motion for a legal-fee award was denied in September 1995, leaving me unaided by professional counsel. I presently struggle against Herculean odds in a 7-year matrimonial proceeding that involves court-suppressed evidence about severe child abuse and domestic violence

I speak for the thousands of pro se litigants who are routinely subjected to anxiety intentionally inflicted by court officers.

Elizabeth Frothingham

Cambridge, Mass.

*Editor's note: The writer says she is scheduled to present her oral argument before the five judges of the Appellate Division: First Department at 27 Madison Ave. in New York on Dec. 11. The proceedings open to the public.


The Nov. 13 page 1 article "Summit Goal on Hunger Needs Bio-Breakthrough" reports that rice yields have been boosted to 3.6 million metric tons per hectare.

That works out to 7.92 billion pounds per hectare - a plot of ground 100 meters on a side. That divides out to 792,000 pounds per square meter. In turn, that equates to a yield per square meter that is piled 11.1 feet deep. At the US price of rice of about 9 cents per pound, that comes out to $71,280 off a patch of ground one meter square. Maybe it's time to move back to the farm.

The author and editors are at least consistent; the same error of adding six extra zeros occurs in the items on wheat and corn.

John Tanton

Petoskey, Mich.

Taiwan is not a 'renegade province'

Although the Oct. 28 article "To Head Off a 'Cold War II,' China and US Try to Warm Up Relations" raises some insightful points, I find it ironic that the author uncritically refers to Beijing's view of Taiwan as a "renegade province" without once addressing Taiwan's perspective.

China's current fragmentation is a highly complex issue that has evolved from historical events of the past century. Since 1949, the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC, founded in 1912), have maintained separate jurisdictions over two distinct geographical areas of a divided China. Both sides share a vision of "One China" but differ greatly in their interpretations of this vision. The PRC sees only itself in "One China" with Taiwan as a "renegade province," while the ROC views the concept as a cultural, historical, and geographic entity, existing in the hearts of all Chinese and attainable only through peaceful and cooperative means.

Beijing's repeated intimidation tactics and reliance on outdated rhetoric have created some unfortunate setbacks. However, Taiwan is determined to overcome these setbacks through dialogue and diplomacy, without compromising the basic rights of its 21.5 million people. It will do so, not as a "renegade province," but as a full-fledged democracy, with a clear view of political and economic reality and true concern for the prosperity and freedom of all Chinese people.

John Chi


Taipei Economic and Cultural Office

Letters must include your address. All are subject to editing. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail (200w maximum) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.