When you are in court, your demeanor happens to be very important, and this is especially true if you have received a criminal charge. Your actions can affect how the judge, the prosecutor, the jury, and even how your own lawyer sees and treats you, so you should take a minute and think about how you can best present yourself at your court appearances.
Respect the formal atmosphere
The court is a formal place and weighty decisions are made there daily. Before you leave your home, you should make sure you are dressed and groomed neatly. "Business casual" is a term that fits the way you should dress for court, and you would not be amiss if you dressed as you would for a job interview. Impressions count. If you are incarcerated, you should ask your family or a friend to provide you with some neat, appropriate clothing and footwear to wear to court.
Plan ahead and be on time, because the court will have a number of cases, and other business to attend to. Being late will annoy the judge and could result in a delay in your case, which will necessitate another visit to court.
You should be prepared and bring any necessary paperwork (such as pay stubs to prove you are working), or anything else you need to back up your statements to the judge. Being ill-prepared can cause a delay, or could affect the outcome of your case.
Turn off your cellphone and don't bring in soda
If you have a cellphone, turn it off before going in the courtroom, because even a vibrating phone can be annoying. Texting while you are in court is not considered respectful either. Don't eat, drink, or talk a lot to a companion. Even whispering quietly can be a distracting hum, plus other people may wonder what is so fascinating or amusing. Chewing gum while talking to the judge or your attorney makes you look like an immature wise-cracker.
Get a babysitter
You might think having your children with you will invoke sympathy. It might, but if they are noisy and fussy, this could work against you. The judge may also be annoyed at you for trying this ploy. If you have a lawyer, you should ask about this before bringing them, or before having someone else bring them.
Show respect to the judge
You would be smart to refer to the judge as your honor in court, even if you have a negative personal opinion about the appropriateness of the phrase. If you have ever watched an episode of Judge Judy (which is a show about civil matters, but this is still applicable), you will know that you can really annoy a judge by interrupting someone else who is speaking. Don't worry, you will have your turn. By the way, you should stand to address the judge, unless they tell you otherwise.
And finally, check your attitude at the doors
Whatever you do, don't call the judge names, yell, argue, or otherwise be disrespectful when you are speaking to them. Doing these things could result in harsher penalties for you if you have decided to plead guilty or are convicted, and you could end up with some additional contempt of court charges. If you don't understand a decision, you may ask questions when the judge gives you an opportunity, or ask your attorney. If there has been a mistake, it can be rectified in due time.
Another thing that can get you a contempt charge is using obscene gestures in the court. You may have free speech out on the sidewalk in front of the court, but you really don't have it inside. At the very least, you will lose the sympathy of the judge and everyone else. It's a good idea to appear earnest and alert, but also have a poker face as well. Don't be sighing, grunting, sneering, doing some eye-rolling, or tapping your fingers on a rail, bench or table -- save those behaviors for when you are back home watching a nightly episode of Nancy Grace.
An attorney like Law Office of Michael Marinaro & Associates may have some other pointers for you in regards to your particular situation. Even if you are in court for a minor traffic violation, these tips will serve you well.
Hello, I'm Phillip Kerr and I just love the legal profession and courtroom drama. Have you ever watched judge shows on TV? I know that these shows are not an accurate representation of the courtroom, but there is something you may have noticed. Some individuals come into the courtroom well-dressed, articulate, respectful and with the knowledge and documents necessary to support a case, while others come unprepared, slovenly dressed and appear as if they do not have a care in the world. How you present yourself and the knowledge that you have of the law will have an impact on how you are treated, even if you have legal representation. This blog is designed to assist those who are going to trial in doing just that.