You may not have experience with courtroom decorum. Fear not. The following is a list of tips to help you avoid common faux pas. Remember that the courtroom is a formal environment:
- Take care of yourself. Get a good-night’s sleep and eat a full breakfast.
- Dress appropriately (Read: conservatively). You will have only a short period of time to make a good impression on the judge. Dressing well is a great first start. I always advise my clients to wear a suit. Do not wear jeans.
- Find a sitter. Do not bring your children to court unless you have been specifically requested to do so by the judge or your attorney. Children can be a distraction, and most of the subject matter covered in hearings is not appropriate for them.
- Leave the new beau at home. The presence of a new partner or spouse in court during divorce or custody matters will only exacerbate an already acrimonious situation. Bring a well-behaved friend to the hearing if you need emotional support.
- Be punctual. Allow yourself enough time to park and pass through security. Arrive outside your courtroom at least fifteen minutes before your hearing to cover any last minute details with your attorney.
- Turn off your phone. A ringing cellphone will only aggravate the judge and embarrass you. Don’t be that guy.
- Display deference. Enter and exit quietly. Stand when the judge enters or exits. If you are called to address the judge, use the title, “Your Honor.”
- Remain silent. Do not speak to the judge unless you are offering testimony. Your attorney is your mouthpiece. Do not communicate verbally with your attorney. Have a pad of paper ready to jot down necessary communications with counsel.
Originally posted Wednesday, August 15, 2012 7:10 PM.