How to Conduct Yourself in Court

Dress in a way that shows respect for the court

You do not have to buy new clothes for court but halters, worn out jeans, shorts and tee-shirts are not appropriate.

Because certain behaviors are noisy, distracting or disrespectful, you may not chew gum, eat, drink, read a newspaper, sleep, wear a hat, listen to earphones, carry a cell phone or pager unless it’s turned off, have a camera or camera phone.

Be on time

If you miss your hearing, the judge can make orders that you may not agree with and which may seriously affect you and your case.

Do not bring children into court

Many of the topics discussed in court are not appropriate for young children. Arrange for a friend or relative to watch your children while you are in court.

Stand when the judge enters or leaves the courtroom.

The court officer will tell you when to sit and stand. If you are in doubt, stand when the judge is standing. You can usually sit down once the judge is seated, unless you are speaking with the judge.

Stand and speak when the judge talks to you

Remain standing as long as you and the judge are talking. You may need to stay standing even if the judge talks to the person on the other side of your case. If in doubt, ask the judge before sitting down.

The judge will let you know when to speak

Never get into an argument or even a discussion with the other side in front of the judge. Always speak directly to the judge, unless the judge allows you to answer formal questions from the other side.

Speak clearly

You need to speak and not just nod or shake your head because court proceedings are often recorded. Listen carefully to the questions you are asked. Be direct and to the point when answering questions.

Always address the judge as “Your Honor”

The judge must keep order in the courtroom and will be making important decisions about you and your case. Be respectful and understand that the judge likes to keep the proceedings as orderly as possible. This helps keep the process fair to everyone.

During a proceeding before the judge, you should talk directly to the judge and not the other side, avoid arguing with or interrupting another person, and control your emotions. When you talk to the judge, start by saying “Your Honor”. Speak loudly and clearly and remember that only one person can speak at a time. A court reporter or a tape recorder may be taking down everything said in the courtroom, and can only record one speaker at a time.

Your case may be “Taken Under Advisement”

This means that the judge needs time to think about how to decide your case.The court will contact you as to the decision once it is made. Make sure that the court has your current contact information, including your telephone number and mailing address.

Do not talk on your way out or even right outside the door

Many times another hearing starts as soon as yours ends, and your talking can interfere with the next case.