Law Blog

Courtroom Basics – 101

Most people have a fear or general apprehension when it comes to appearing in front of a judge in a courtroom.  However, there are several tips, that if followed, will make your time in court as painless as possible.

The most important thing to understand is that, if you are not in court when they call your name, the judge will typically issue a warrant for your arrest.  This can cost you more money in attorneys fees  and other costs when it comes time to pay your fines, and will most definitely cause you additional headache and inconvenience if you should get arrested.  Call the court before your court date…make sure you know where you are going…give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination so that you can show up on time.

Leave your children at home.  Children generally have a short attention span….shorter than the length of most court sessions.  When your children get bored they will act out.  However, the courtroom is not the place to have your children misbehave.  This is disruptive to the people sitting around you, as well as to the court as a whole.  Find a babysitter.  If you can’t find a babysitter, have a family member come to court with you and sit out in the lobby with the children.  More importantly than the distraction aspect, your children should not be privy to your legal problems.

Wear appropriate attire.  This does not mean that you cannot wear jeans…just please wear your jeans around your waist and not your knees.  While everyone in the room is thankful that you chose to wear underwear, they don’t necessarily want to see it.  Wife beaters are ok, if you don’t want to be taken seriously.  Take off your hat, and comb your hair.  There aren’t many courtrooms that are outdoors, so please take off your sunglasses.  You may see all of these things as insignificant.  However, if you show respect for yourself, as well as the court, you will be shown respect by the judge and prosecutor.

Avoid contributing to any courtroom distractions.  Turn off your cell phones before you enter the courtroom.  While your phone calls may be important to you, I assure you that the judge feels that the courtroom business is a tad superior to where the local happy hour will be held.  Along the same lines, please keep your conversations to yourself until you are out of the courtroom.  If you must talk during court, simply step out into the hall.  After you are finished talking to the judge, it not necessary to try to make light of the situation, or be the class clown.  While you make think it is funny to show off in front of a full house, the court does not, and you would be surprised at what the judge and other courtroom personnel can remember.

It is important for the judge and other court personnel to be able to hear and understand what you are saying to them.  When you are called up by someone, speak loudly and clear.  Do not say “uh-huh”, “nu-uh”, or anything that cannot be interpreted.  Use proper grammar.  It is important that the judge knows that you understand what he or she is saying…leave no questions in their mind.  While you want the judge to hear what it is that you are saying, he or she does not want you to lean against the bench.  Stand straight and tall…a few feet away from the bench.

If you follow these basic common sense rules, you will show that you understand that the courtroom is a place to show respect and you will find that your time in front of the judge will be as pleasant as it can be under the circumstances.

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