V. GETTING READY FOR YOUR DAY IN
A. How should I prepare for court?
Like the judge, you play an important role in
creating a positive and respectful environment in the court.
As a way of demonstrating respect for the law and for the important
matters before the court, including your case, pay attention
to the following details:
- Arrive at the courthouse
well ahead of the scheduled time so that you can get
through security, find the correct courtroom, and check in if necessary.
- Make sure you have all
of the necessary papers, witnesses or items you might need
to tell your story or handle your business at the courthouse.
- Be prepared to wait
for other cases to be heard. Be patient. Listen and observe.
- Practice telling your
story so that you are prepared to speak in front of the
judge or other person hearing your case.
- Avoid wearing shorts,
tee shirts, halter tops, worn-out jeans or other informal
or distracting clothing. Be certain that your clothing
appears neat and clean.
- Hats or other head
coverings should not be worn into the courtroom unless
worn for religious reasons.
- Do not bring any weapons
to the courthouse.
- Do not bring a camera
into the courtroom without permission.
B. How should I conduct myself in court?
While in the courtroom:
- Sit quietly when court
is in session. Do not chat or whisper with others.
- Turn off all cell phones
and beepers (or they may be taken from you).
- Be courteous, fair,
and polite to everyone you encounter in the courthouse.
- If at all possible,
do not bring children to court. Children can be a distraction
from the important events taking place and many topics
that come up are inappropriate for children to hear. If
you must bring children, bring someone with you who can
watch them. Bring books or quiet games to keep children
- Do not read newspapers
or books in the courtroom. Do not bring food or drink into
- Pay attention
to what is going on in the courtroom even if it is not
your turn to be heard. Listen, observe, and learn from
other matters being heard. This will help you when it
is your turn.
When it is your turn to be heard
by the court:
- Remain seated until
your case is called. Follow the instructions of court personnel
as to where to stand when you are called.
- Address the judge
honor" and stand while speaking to him or her.
- Do not interrupt another
speaker or the judge. You will be given a turn to tell
your side of the story.
- Address your remarks
to the judge, not to the other party.
- Try to control your
emotions so that you can tell your story in a way that
is understandable. Don't yell or react to other speakers
by sighing or gesturing or acting in a threatening manner.
This will not help your case and could hurt it.
- Speak slowly and clearly
so that your message is heard and understood.
- If you have a question
about how to proceed, ask the judge.