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How Do I Act in a Courtroom? What is Proper Courtroom Attire?


Question: How Do I Act in a Courtroom? What is Proper Courtroom Attire?
A courtroom is a solemn place, representing the judicial branch of the government, and a judge demands respect as a representative of the government, whether it is federal, state, or local. Specific rules apply to those who are bringing cases to court or who have cases brought against them.

Respect for the Court
The key word in this discussion is "respect." You must have respect for the judge as a representative of the court, and respect for the courtroom process. Here are some general rules that most courts require you to comply with if you are in court:

  • Arrive early and prepared. You might have to sit and wait, but that is far better than running late. Arrive late and you might find your case passed by.
  • Wear business clothing; no wild hairstyles, open shoes, tank tops, mini skirts, T shirts, or other non-business attire.
  • Gum chewing, tobacco, recording devices (like pda's or ipods), cell phones, food, beverages, or newspapers are NOT allowed.
  • Don't wear a hat unless it is for religious reasons.
  • Children are allowed in most courtrooms, but only if they are quiet. If you must bring your children, have someone with you who can take the child out if he or she becomes loud or disruptive.
  • When your case is called, go to the counsel table or podium (with your attorney, if one is with you). You will be sworn in (in small claims court). You may not move out from behind the table or podium without permission.
  • The judge is to be addressed as "Your Honor," not "Judge Smith." Talk only to the judge and (in a soft voice) to your attorney. Do not address the opposing counsel or other party. When referring to others, do not use first names. It's "Mr. Smith," not "Jim," even if he is your brother-in-law.
  • Speak only when instructed or given permission. Don't interrupt. When you answer questions, be brief and to the point; answer the question you were asked and stop.
  • Don't interrrupt anyone, most especially not the judge.
  • Only one person speaks at a time, because of recording devices in the courtroom and for politeness.
  • Don't argue, especially not with the judge.
  • Use formal English, not slang.
In other words, be on your best behavior and consider the solemnity of the courtroom. Show respect to the judge and others in the courtroom.

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