As you know, if your case is finally headed to court, getting inside an actual courtroom can take a long time. Simple missteps can damage your case and possibly get you fined or arrested by the court.
Here are five things you need to know before entering a courtroom:
1. Know the Courtroom Procedures
Much of this is what should be common sense types of things, such as don’t wear a hat and don’t talk loudly while your case is waiting to be called, but you’ll see once you enter the courtroom that many people fail to follow simple courtesies. You should also be aware of where to sit because some seats are saved for law enforcement, attorneys, the press or the other party. Even if you’re not afraid of getting yelled at by the court officers, remember they can also do things like make sure your case is called last if you irritate them.
2. Dress the Part
Business suits are always preferred in court. If you don’t own a suit and buying one is beyond your means, dress as professionally as possible. Judges differ on what they require as minimum courtroom attire, but all appreciate and show more respect to those that make an effort to dress as well as possible.
3. Don’t Talk to the Other Side or Their Witnesses!
Anything you say can and will be used against you. Whether someone tries to spin your words, misinterprets them to contradict you or accuses you of tampering with a witness, there is absolutely nothing good that can come out of talking with the other side while a case is pending. The only exception is in structured settlement discussions or depositions with your attorney present.
4. Be Ready to Work
Yes, you are paying your attorney, but your active participation can help your case. Taking notes, paying close attention to all testimony and helping your attorney find documents can all go a long way towards making things go more smoothly and ensuring your attorney doesn’t miss anything while trying to do two things at once.
5. Everyone Is Watching You
Whether it’s a jury trial or a scheduling conference, everyone in the courtroom is watching you. Judges and juries watch your demeanor and use it in their decisions. The other side watches you to guess how well things are going. Keep a poker face, but look like you’re paying attention.