Court Decorum: What To Expect

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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:

  1. Take care of yourself. Get a good-night’s sleep and eat a full breakfast.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Turn off your phone. A ringing cellphone will only aggravate the judge and embarrass you. Don’t be that guy.
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.


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