A Few Words From Underwood & Micklin on Courtroom Etiquette

Before a court session begins, we at Underwood and Micklin strive to inform our client on the proper etiquette that the judge will expect from him or her. While some behaviors should be obvious, the client needs to know that the etiquette they show could impact the judge’s decision in a positive or negative way.

Court etiquette requires that everyone in the courtroom dress appropriately and most courts require business casual to professional dress codes. The first thing the judge will see when they enters the courtroom is how you are dressed and it’s very important to make a good first impression. Men should dress in a suit and tie, while women should wear either dress pants or a dress and heels. The attire you choose should always be clean and ironed. Courtrooms do not allow you to wear any type of hat, so leave that at home. If you are a male, you should also consider arriving clean shaven or with neatly trimmed facial hair.

Arriving to the Courtroom
Make you sure arrive on time. Judges expect punctuality so all courtroom attendees should arrive 10 to 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time, unless otherwise specified by the judge. Tardiness the day of your court hearing is simply unacceptable and will definitely be remembered by the Judge or Jury. If you do happen to be running late, make sure to call ahead and notify your attorney or the courtroom so that they are given advanced notice; upon entering the courtroom, address the judge and apologize for the delay.

Show Respect
Always respect the judge. Whenever you speak to the judge, always start with “Your Honor.” This is a sign of respect and the judge will take notice to it. When speaking with the judge or other parties, speak slowly and clearly so that all parties can understand you. Never raise your voice to, or argue with, the judge. Also, when the judge enters the courtroom, stand up and do not sit down until the judge instructs you to. If for some reason the judge leaves the courtroom, stand, and remain standing, until he/she is out of the room. Lastly, never use your cell phone, or any other electronic devices while inside the courtroom.

Make sure you are prepared and ready to present your case in court. Gather as much research and information as possible to help you present your case. Know what you are going to say in your testimony; it may even be helpful to practice your testimony in the mirror, which will help you feel more relaxed in such a tense atmosphere. If you plan on bringing along any documents, make sure to have them organized for easy access. You may also want to bring along a pen and notepad.

Prohibited Items
Since courtrooms are Government buildings, there are a number of items that are not allowed inside. Items prohibited from courthouses include weapons, food, drink, and tobacco products. Also, electronic devices, such as cell phones, are also prohibited inside the courthouse. Make sure to discuss any concerns you have with your attorney prior to your court appearance so you are confident you won’t break any rules.

How you present yourself in court can go a long way. It is important to respect the judge and all other parties by showing proper courtroom etiquette at all times.