Courtroom etiquette has many written and unwritten rules and, as we all know, first impressions are lasting impressions, so how you appear and how you behave during your court appearance may have a significant impact on your case. In some extreme circumstances, bad behavior can result in jail time or a fine if you are found in contempt of court. To make a good first impression, you should familiarize yourself with the rules and make sure you adhere to them.
Planning for Your Day in Court
The courthouse is a place of employment for the judge and the court staff. As everybody else, they want to keep their work day smooth and efficient. By arriving on time and following the rules, you show the court the proper respect it deserves and allow the court to maintain efficiency. By doing so, you are also increasing your chances of a more favorable outcome.
Plan to arrive at the courthouse early – account for possible delays with your commute, such as traffic, accidents, missed buses and difficulty finding parking – finding a parking space in the courthouse garage or in the immediate vicinity may be very difficult. Some days are much busier than others at the courthouse. If there was sufficient parking during your initial court appearance, that does not mean the same will hold true on a subsequent court appearance.
Allow yourself extra time to enter the courthouse – security screenings can take a lot of time, especially if there is a long line ahead of you (always assume that will be the case).
Know where you need to be – find your courtroom in advance.
Prior to your court date, double check that you have all necessary documentation in order. Your attorney should advise you what you are expected to bring to court, if anything. Familiarize yourself with any and all documents before arriving at court and keep it organized.
Wake up early enough to have sufficient time to get ready, so you can arrive looking clean and orderly. Set a back up alarm.
Dress appropriately – wear clothing that would be appropriate for an important business meeting. We recommend business casual at a minimum. A suit and tie for men is advised if your case is set for trial. Women should consider a nice dress or a female business suit. Stay conservative in your appearance. When choosing your outfit, think along the lines of going to a religious event rather than a club on Saturday night.
Mind your manners when waiting outside the courtroom. You never know who may be watching.
Never skip your scheduled courtroom appearance – if it is unavoidable due to a serious emergency, contact your attorney immediately.
How to Behave in a Courtroom Once You Arrive
Once you arrive in the courtroom, it’s important to remember where you are. Act appropriately and show the court the proper respect. Your outward appearance may influence or bias the judge or jury. Remember the following rules:
Turn off any and all electronic devices, such as cell phones, before you enter the courtroom.
Do not bring any food or drinks into the courtroom.
If you have children – try your best to arrange for somebody to look after them in advance and confirm before the court date.
Be polite to everybody, including the judge, as well as opposing counsel and the courtroom staff.
Stand up when the judge enters or leaves the courtroom – do not sit down until she or he is seated. The same applies when the jury enters or leaves the courtroom.
Always stand if you are asked to address the judge.
Avoid unnecessary or offensive gestures and facial expressions, be mindful of your body language, and keep control of your emotions.
Do not interrupt others while they are speaking.
Refer any questions to your lawyer rather than the judge or the courtroom staff.
Show the proper respect by referring to the judge as “Your Honor”.
What to do After Your Appearance in Court?
After your court appearance, follow your attorney’s instructions. If you have questions, contact your attorney.
Contact The Davis Law Group, P.C. for a Free Initial Consultation
At The Davis Law Group, P.C., we provide a partnership approach based on our strengths and experience in the courtroom. If you need to appear in court or otherwise are in need of legal assistance, please call (847) 390-8500 or contact us to schedule your free and confidential consultation with one of our lawyers today.