Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tips to Help you Make a Good Courtroom Appearance

It is normal to be concerned about appearing in court. Whether your case is family law, business, probate or other type case, the way you look and act while you are in court is important, even for just a short procedural hearing.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Signs of respect or disrespect for the court

1.  A neat, clean physical appearance = GOOD (tuck your shirt in when possible, especially for guys)
2.  Refrain from chewing gum!
3.  Don't let your phone ring or chime.
4.  Reading your phone, email, texts or a book or newspaper while proceedings are going on is distracting and disrespectful 
5. A ringing or chiming phone (you may even have your phone taken by the bailiff in some courtrooms!)
6. Don't EVER wear the following, even for a short, "informal" hearing;
  • shorts (not even "dress shorts")
  • tank tops
  • tops that show midriff
  • tshirts with slogans and pictures on them that may be offensive, controversial, or un-businesslike (avoid tshirts altogether if you can, unless you must wear them as part of an appropriate work uniform)
  • Flip-flops
7. Talking in court is not respectful and may earn you a sharp reprimand from the bailiff or judge if you are distracting others.

Behavior Modification

The following are BAD IDEAS
  1. A show of temper while on the stand or in front of the judge (towards the judge, opposing counsel, or your own attorney)
  2. A show of temper anywhere in or near the courtroom 
  3. Using obscenities or obscenity substitutes (everyone knows what you really mean)
  4. Losing your respectful business-like demeanor
  5. Making statements that blame others and don't take responsibility for your own behavior
  6. (for family law cases) Not putting your kids first.
The most frequent courtroom mishap involves showing anger. Raising your voice, sounding bitter, whining, smirking, acting stubborn when asked to answer a question, arguing/debating with one of the attorneys or the judge, employing sarcasm, rolling your eyes or shaking your head -these are all signs of anger AND it can cost you.

REMEMBER- You have a very short time to make your case.   A few minutes of bad behavior in the courtroom can sabotage hours of research and preparation.

Make sure you maintain a professional, polite demeanor in the courtroom, no matter what happens. Inform your attorney if you are worried about how to behave in court and and prepare yourself in advance to deal with your frustration in a constructive way. 




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