United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. Hickey Chief United States District Judge
the Court is Intervenor Gary Wilson's Second Motion to
Strike Answer of Separate Defendant Winford. (ECF No. 68). No
party has responded to the motion and the time to do so has
passed. See Local Rule 7.2(b). The Court finds the
matter ripe for consideration.
Community State Bank filed this interpleader action pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1335 and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
22 to resolve competing claims to certain funds it holds. On
March 4, 2019, Intervenor filed the instant motion pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), asking the Court to
strike Separate Defendant Carrie W. Winford's answer for
impermissibly engaging in the unlawful practice of law.
who are not licensed attorneys can appear in the courts and
engage in the practice of law, provided that they do so for
themselves and in connection with their own business.”
Morgan v. Nat'l Bank of Kan. City, No.
4:09-cv-0792-WRW, 2009 WL 3592543, at *1 (E.D. Ark. Oct. 27,
2009). A pro se litigant may only represent an
estate in court if she is the sole beneficiary and creditor
of the estate. Jones ex rel. Jones v. Corr. Med. Servs.,
Inc., 401 F.3d 950, 952 (8th Cir. 2005); Abraham v.
Jordan, No. 8:08-cv-151, 2008 WL 2330986, at *2 (D. Neb.
June 4, 2008). When a non-attorney impermissibly engages in
the unlawful practice of law, any actions they perform are
rendered a nullity. Morgan, 2009 WL 3592543, at *1.
Defendant Winford proceeds pro se in this matter as
the administratrix of the estate of Jennifer Harting Wilson.
On January 29, 2019, the Court entered an order noting
Separate Defendant Winford's pro se status and
instructing her that it is impermissible for her to proceed
pro se in federal court on behalf of Jennifer
Harting Wilson's estate unless she is the sole
beneficiary and creditor of the estate. In so stating, the
Court informed Separate Defendant Winford that, within thirty
days of that order, she must either file an affidavit
demonstrating that she is the sole beneficiary and creditor
of Jennifer Harting Wilson's estate or have an attorney
enter an appearance in this case on her behalf. Approximately
four months have passed since that order was filed and
Separate Defendant Winford has not demonstrated that she is
licensed to practice law in the State Arkansas or any other
jurisdiction, nor has she demonstrated that she is the sole
beneficiary and creditor of Jennifer Harting Wilson's
estate. She has also failed to have an attorney enter an
appearance in this case on her behalf.
consideration, the Court finds that Separate Defendant
Winford has engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and,
therefore, her attempt to file an answer on behalf of the
estate of Jennifer Harting Wilson was ineffectual and results
in a nullity, as though it did not occur. Because Separate
Defendant Winford could not file an answer as the
administratrix of Jennifer Harting Wilson's estate, there
is, in effect, no answer to strike. Therefore, the instant
motion should be denied insofar as it seeks that a document
be stricken from the record.
reasons stated above, the Court finds that Intervenor's
motion (ECF No. 68) should be and hereby is
DENIED. The docket reflects that on May 14,
2018, Plaintiff served Separate Defendant Winford, as
indicated by her signature on a return receipt for certified
mail. (ECF No. 7). Accordingly, the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure required her to file an answer or an otherwise
responsive pleading by June 4, 2018. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(a)(1)(A)(i) (providing twenty-one days to file an
answer after receipt of service). In light of the Court's
above holding that Separate Defendant Winford's attempt
to file an answer as the administratrix of the estate of
Jennifer Harting Wilson was ineffectual and resulted in a
nullity, the Court finds that Separate Defendant Winford has
failed to timely answer the complaint within the prescribed
period. Accordingly, the Clerk of Court is
DIRECTED to file a notice of default
procedures under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 as to
Separate Defendant Winford.
IS SO ORDERED
 As the Court previously noted in its
January 29, 2019 order, the signature block of Separate
Defendant Winford's answer lists her name, followed by
“c/o W. Deryl Medlin, Attorney.” (ECF No. 18, p.
4). Mr. Medlin has not entered an appearance in this case on
Separate Defendant Winford's behalf or communicated with
the Court in any way. Thus, as far as the Court is concerned,
Separate Defendant Winford remains pro se in this
 A motion to dismiss pursuant to
various abstention doctrines remains pending. In due time,
the Court will address that motion by separate order. Until
that motion is ruled on, any motion for default ...