1. Prepare. Do not “wing it” when attending any hearing. Organize your documents, review the timeline of the case, know the current status. You can visit your clerk’s website to view the online docket of your case. Be sure to bring a pen and paper to take notes during the hearing.
2. Address the parties appropriately. Refer to the judge as “your honor”, bailiffs as, sir or, ma’am, counsel as Mr., Mrs., or Ms. (last name). Try to avoid “he” and “she” to refer to parties or attorneys. It is confusing when you do not use proper names and can appear disrespectful. Never use derogatory language toward anyone in the courtroom.
3. Remain calm. Tensions are often high in the courtroom. Take deep breaths and request a minute to compose yourself if you feel you are overwhelmed. The more upset you are the less clear you will be. One of the hardest parts of being in court is the lack of time you have to present your case. The calmer you are the better you will be able to present your case.
4. Arrive early. Plan to be at the courthouse no later than 30 minutes before the start of your hearing. Not all days at the courthouse are the same. You will go through security to enter the courthouse. Some days the line is longer than others, depending on jury duty, number of other cases, and sometimes groups attending field trips. It is hard to predict how long it will take on any given day. Going to court is often stressful, do not add stress but running late.
5. Dress appropriately. Review the court’s dress code, it should be available on their website. As a general rule stay away from flip-flops, shorts, tank tops and midriff-baring tops. Much like a job interview you want to make a good impression. Dressing appropriately lets the other parties in court know you want to be taken seriously.
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