How to Act in Court

You need to know how to act in court when it time for your trial or hearing.  It will make a difference in the outcome of your proceeding whether you are in front of a judge or jury.  Knowing how to act in court will help you and your lawyer be successful.  There are things you shouldn’t do and things you should definitely do when you are in court.

Don’t Do These in Court

Do not be disrespectful.

Do not laugh when the Judge is talking or when anyone else is talking, including witnesses and the other party.

Do not dress as if you don’t care.

Don’t wear t-shirts with a catchy phrase or saying on it, for example:  ‘Thing 1” (or for that matter, Thing 2). Do not wear striped socks on the outside of black pants with tiny elephants printed on them.  Don’t dress in such a way that you are disrespecting the Judge or the legal process.

Don’t be sarcastic or rude.

Sarcasm is lost in the courtroom, and there is no advantage to you to be rude or sarcastic.

Don’t Interrupt.

Hearings and trials can be stressful and you may not agree with anything that is being said by other people.  No matter what, do not talk when the Judge is talking – ever, at all.  Don’t interrupt other parties or witnesses, or either of the lawyers.

 Don’t get on your phone.

Don’t text during your hearing or get on your phone at all.  Don’t pull out your phone to make a post to Instagram or take a selfie.  I’ve seen judges, yes, more than one, stop the court proceeding and have the bailiff take someone’s phone who was trying to take a picture from the gallery (the seating area in the courtroom), call the person up to the bench, delete the pictures on the phone while the person is at the bench and then have that person escorted out of the courtroom by the bailiff without their phone.  You don’t want to be that person.

Act This Way in Court – Do These Things

Turn off your phone.

Courtrooms have rules about what is allowed and not allowed once you enter through the doors of that particular courtroom. Follow them – cell phones are universally required to be turned off in courtrooms, and you can be found in contempt of court and fined if your phone goes off.

Pay attention.

Pay attention and listen to what is going on during your hearing or trial, even if you don’t agree or are unhappy. You may hear or see things that you disagree with during your trial or hearing and you need to remain quiet when that happens. A hearing or trial has a process that needs to be followed, regardless of your happiness.

Speak clearly.

Speak clearly when it is your chance to talk, throughout your hearing or trial. No matter who is asking the questions, speak clearly enough that the court reporter, the judge and the lawyers can hear your testimony. You will be nervous, so adjust your volume if you need to speak louder.  In most courtrooms, the microphones don’t amplify your voice, they are for the court reporter to take down the testimony.

Jill O’Connell, 940-497-5454