I understand going to court can be intimidating, a little nerve-racking, and probably not how you want to be spending your time. However, court appearances are important and necessary to achieve your goals for the case. I am providing you with the following tips to help inform you of what you can expect. By following these few simple rules, you will avoid problems, make court as comfortable as possible, and learn what to expect in court?
1. Be On Time
As the saying goes, five minutes early is on time, on time is late, and five minutes late is unacceptable. Some judges will take you into custody or call unneeded attention to you in the courtroom if you arrive late. Therefore, I recommend arriving in the courtroom 5 minutes early and at the courthouse 20 minutes prior to court. You will be required to go through security prior to entering a courtroom and the lines to get
through security can be long at times.
When the court calls the docket (roll call), and your name is called, it is important for you to stand up. This allows the judge to see you and prevents the judge from mistakenly issuing a warrant for your arrest. In the event I am in another courtroom when your name is called, let the judge know you are there and that I will be there shortly.
In the event, you arrive to court late and I am in the courtroom walk up to the rail and get my attention so I may let the court know you have arrived. In the event I am not in the courtroom, walk up to the rail and attempt to make eye contact with the bailiff. Let the bailiff know you have arrived so he or she may let the court know.
2. Dress Appropriately
Courts have a dress code. You will most likely be asked to leave the court if you fail to comply with it and being kicked out of the courtroom is not good for your case. Therefore, I recommend you dress in business casual or nicer attire. General Court rules are:
a. No hats;
b. No shorts;
c. No torn or dirty clothes;
d. Shirts must be tucked in, and
e. No flip-flops.
I suggest you do not wear anything that might be offensive and avoid clothing with text statements. Therefore, I suggest you wear a button-down shirt or blouse to court now that you have an idea on what to expect in court.
3. No Prohibited Items
Weapons (even knives), drugs (unless in a prescription bottle with your name on the bottle), cigarette lighters, and extra sets of clothing are prohibited in the courthouse. You can expect to go through a metal detector and have a security x-ray of your bag prior to entering the courtroom. That is why I suggest you travel light and do not carry anything into the courthouse you should not have.
4. Follow Court Staff Directions
Every day is different in court. Pay attention to court staff and their directions. Also, make sure you read all signs posted outside of the courtroom. It is not uncommon for a court to instruct you to go to another courtroom to handle the case. This will often occur when the judge has an emergency and can’t be in court or when the court is in a jury trial and does not want to interrupt the trial for other matters.
5. Silence Your Cell Phone
All courts require your cell phone to be on silent. It is not uncommon for a judge to have a bailiff confiscate a phone if it makes noise in the courtroom. Also, do not take pictures with your cell phone while in the courtroom.
6. Be Patient
Courts handle large number of cases and the court operates based on the judge’s preferences and convenience. Therefore, expect to spend some time waiting. I recommend bringing something to read, other than your cell phone or electronic device.
Attorneys are often required to be in multiple courts at the same time and courts handle multiple matters during each docket. For these reasons, you may find yourself waiting in the courtroom. It is important to remain patient, polite, and calm as you wait. You never know when the prosecutor, the judge, the bailiff or another court staff member may be watching those in the courtroom. The last thing I want is for a judge or prosecutor to get the wrong impression of you because you are becoming frustrated with the speed of the court. In the event, an emergency occurs requiring you to leave the courtroom and I am in another court, please send a text to my cell phone at 361-929-0088 so I may head to the court and address the issue with you and the court. If you can’t wait for my response or for me to head to the courtroom, politely get the attention of the bailiff and let the bailiff know what the emergency is and why you need to leave the courtroom. The bailiff can notify the judge who can address the issue and release you if necessary.
7. Try Your Best to Relax
The court will not force you into anything without your lawyer being present. The court may seem chaotic, but there is a method to the madness.
8. Check In With Me
If I am not in the courtroom when you arrive, please send me a text message letting me know you are in court. I will be able to respond letting you know where I am and when I expect to be there. At times, the court can be unpredictable for lawyers too. I often find myself waiting in line or for a judge to appear in another court.
I know that sitting in a courtroom is not how you want to spend your time. We will always do everything in our power to make it as smooth and easy as possible for you. If you ever have any questions on what to expect in court, please do not hesitate to call me at 361-882-7788 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.