Prepping for a court appearance can feel intimidating. Even if you watch Judge Judy on a regular basis, navigating the court system can feel scary. The key to confidently going to a hearing or trial is to be fully prepared. Follow these steps to make sure you’re doing all you can to get ready for the big event.
Do a Walk Through
Ask your attorney to walk you through how the proceeding will go. Ask them if you will need to speak or if they plan to do all of that for you during the court appearance. If you completed and filed all of the court documents yourself and feel confident about representing yourself in front of a judge, you may want to hire an attorney to just walk you through procedures. That way, you know what to expect if you choose to represent yourself.
Bring Your Paperwork
Bring a copy of the paperwork you filed with the court if you represent yourself. Otherwise, ask your attorney if you need to bring any papers, as he will most likely bring everything with him. You can also bring an outline or notes about what you plan to say and refer to it in front of the judge.
Use Proper Etiquette
Each time you start speaking to the judge, start with “Your Honor.” Be polite. Keep your emotions under control, and avoid outbursts. Try to stay calm. Speak loudly enough for the judge to hear you. Don’t interrupt the judge, and do not speak to the other party while you’re in the courtroom.
Arrive on Time
Avoid being late to your court appearance. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appearance. Ideally, practice the route to the courthouse before the day of your appearance so you know traffic volumes and where to park.
Leave the Kids at Home
Unless your child will be a witness at your hearing or trial, do not bring your children. If you must bring them with you, plan to have them wait outside the courtroom until you’re finished.
Dress for Court
Most attorneys highly recommend wearing conservative clothing as if you’re dressing for a professional job interview. Don’t wear a hat in the courtroom.
Leave Devices & Coffee Behind
Before entering the courtroom, turn off your personal devices, such as mobile phones. Put them away so they are out of sight. Do not use your cell phone or a camera inside of the courtroom. Same goes with beverages and food – leave them out of the courtroom.