If you have an upcoming courtroom appearance or a scheduled meeting at your local courthouse, you may be curious about how to behave in court. Most people want to ensure that they have the proper courtroom etiquette, regardless of if they are the defendant, plaintiff, witness, or spectator.
The Charlotte personal injury attorneys at Price, Petho & Associates explain how you should behave in court to make the best impression in today’s blog.
1. Arrive slightly early or on time
If you have a courthouse appointment or are there for a hearing, you should never arrive late. Every staff member at the courthouse is busy. Therefore, if you are scheduled for a specific time, it is best that you arrive slightly early or on time. We advise arriving early.
So, if you have never been to the courthouse before, you should give yourself enough time to drive to the location as well as locate the area you are supposed to go.
2. Make sure you look presentable
When you have any type of appointment at the courthouse, you should make sure that you are wearing appropriate attire. The truth is that there is not a correct way to dress, but you are stepping foot inside a very professional environment. Therefore, you should make sure you look presentable; this is typically business or business casual attire.
With that being said, we recommend taking off your hat, not wearing revealing clothing, and to assess the nature of any logos or graphics that you may be wearing. (For the record, the same rules apply to jury service.) Also, depending on which courthouse you are going to, you may want to check the dress code, which can usually be found online.
3. Turn off your phone and other electronics or leave them outside
It is a known fact that people do not use their phone or other electronic devices inside the courtroom as well as when in meetings with other staff members. In fact, some courthouses do not allow anyone to enter with a cellphone. Therefore, if this is the case, you will need to leave it outside in your vehicle.
If you are watching a court trial or it is your court hearing, you do not want your phone to start ringing. This can frustrate the judge as well as embarrass you.
4. Remain quiet and pay attention
From the moment you walk through the courtroom door, you should remain quiet, alert, and pay attention. Courtrooms can be boring, but you will make a good impression by showing that you are aware of what is being said. The last thing you want to do is to slouch over and look like you are falling asleep.
5. Be respectful to all courthouse staff
Every staff member at a courthouse deserves respect. Therefore, you should never say anything rude or treat them poorly.
If you are being questioned by the judge or other courtroom personnel, you should answer appropriately. You should also stand up when speaking in court and only address the judge as sir, madam, or your honor.
In addition, it is very important that you speak loud and clear. This ensures that everyone can hear you and that you are not asked to repeat yourself. It is also recommended that you never roll your eyes, make noises, or frown.
6. Leave food, drink, and snacks outside
We know that you may get hungry or thirsty as court hearings and meetings can take a long time. However, it is strongly advisable that you do not bring any food, drink, snacks, or gum inside. This will disrupt the legal process, prevent personnel from doing their jobs, look unprofessional, and may cause a mess.
7. Try not to bring children
Many courtrooms prohibit children from attending. The reason for this is because minors do not understand the seriousness and professionalism of a courtroom or courthouse. Therefore, they may be loud, run around, and be difficult to control. This can interrupt the judge and other individuals as well as delay the legal proceedings.
With that being said, if you know that you need to attend a court hearing or meeting, it is highly suggested that you find a babysitter or caregiver well in advance to ensure that you have someone trustworthy to watch your children.
8. Never interrupt anyone speaking
Even if you believe what is being said is incorrect or does not make sense, you should never interrupt any person who is speaking. Instead, you need to stay silent, continue listening, do not let it bother you, and remain focused.
You also never want to argue. Whether you disagree with the defendant or the judge, the last thing you want to do is start arguing with them. Instead, you should wait patiently until you or your attorney can defend yourself.
The reason we recommend this is because every person is given the opportunity to speak, and you do not want to take away that person’s opportunity. It is not only rude, disrespectful, and unprofessional to interrupt someone, but you also would not want another person to do that to you when it is your turn to speak.
It is very important that you know how to behave from the minute you enter the courthouse doors until you leave. However, with the guidance of a Charlotte personal injury attorney from Price, Petho & Associates, you will not have to worry about remembering proper courtroom etiquette months ahead of time. Instead, our lawyers will explain to you what is expected and ensure that you are prepared a few days before your courthouse meeting or trial.
If you need a personal injury lawyer who will go over every step of the legal process, please do not hesitate to reach out to us by calling our office or submitting our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We have locations in Charlotte, Rockingham, and Rutherfordton for your convenience, and we look forward to meeting you soon.