Here are some lessons I have learned, not just from Coltfan's tribulations.
1. Judges can do weird things. I think that is exactly why I never wanted to be a lawyer. I had a case where I sued a law firm, the firm conducted itself in atrocious ways, such as filing deliberately false statements in papers, and having unlicensed attorneys, etc. In the end, the judge threw out the case and forced me to pay for a depo in which one of the attorneys questioning me falsely claimed to be licensed in the state, when she wasn't.
2. It is best not to get a judge upset, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE PRO SE! The lawyers all know the judge, and can get away with stuff for which a judge would crucify a pro se. So, if you are pro se, you really need to dot all your i's and cross your t's, because if you don't, the judge will hammer you. The judge might give you the shaft anyway, just because you are the deadbeat and the other guy is a respectable lawyer, BUT DON'T GIVE THE JUDGE ANY EXCUSE AT ALL TO SHAFT YOU!
3. Be careful about giving the other side too much information. It can come back to bite you. A blind gambler warned me about that once, and it was wise advice.
4. Find a strategy which works FOR YOU! Nobody here will be in the courtroom with you, or face the judge with you. If anything goes wrong, nobody here will help pay the cost. The best strategy may be to lie low, or to negotiate a settlement you can live with, or it may be to fight like holy HECK!
5. Remember, there are folks on this board who have spent far more time studying the cases than the other side has, know consumer law like the backs of their hand, and have still lost cases where they had what a gambler calls the stone cold nuts.