Implementing Etiquette into the Courtroom

Mind Blown! As an attorney, I find myself in the courtroom quite often with the opportunity to observe others. Depending on the reasons for their appearance in court, their behaviors and choice of words can effect their appearance. A more obvious observation to the public is a person’s physical appearance. If there is one time and place where you want to “dress to impress,” it should be in Court.  Whether you are there as a party to a lawsuit, a family member lending support, or a defendant in a traffic matter, there are certain rules of conduct everyone should follow.

  1. Perhaps the most important rule: TREAT THE COURT STAFF WITH COURTESY.

They are there to run the court system efficiently, and to give you advice.  Your ability to show respect may impact immediate opinions of you.

  • “Dress for success.”  When you go to Court, you want to be taken seriously.  Leave the logo T-Shirt in the drawer. Wear clean clothes and be presentable. Pants should be on your hips, not lower, and yes, they will make you pull them up.  Leave your hat in the car.  They will make you take it off.  Pretend you are going to talk to your boss about a raise.  Dress accordingly. Put your best foot forward.  If you don’t take yourself seriously, why should the Court do so? Avoid attire with holes, inappropriate language, or show undergarments.
  • Be patient. Courts are busy places.  Many cases are heard each day and an exact time cannot be provided. There is even the chance your matter will be rescheduled for another day. You want the Judge to give your matter the attention and time it deserves.  Do not expect them to rush through other people’s matters just to get to yours.
  • Punctuality is key.  Do not be late. As a corollary to the above, don’t make the court wait.  Your matter may be first; or other matters may be resolved more quickly than expected.
  • Turn off your cell phone.  Let me say that again.  Turn off your phone.  The LAST thing you want is for your phone to go off in Court.  It is impolite, it is loud, and it interferes with the sound recording of the proceedings. I have witnessed a Judge take a phone, put it on the corner of their bench, and advise it will be given back when the Judge goes home. This is especially onerous in a busy Municipal Court, where the Judge could be there quite late.
  • Do not come to court impaired.  Imagine coming to court drunk and receiving another charge for public intoxication? I’ve seen it more than once.  Do not believe “the friend of a friend” who says he can sell you something to clean up your urine overnight.  It is not going to happen.  If you know you are not going to pass the drug test that they will give you in Court, consult your attorney.
  • Follow the advice of your attorney.  LISTEN to what he or she says.  Refrain from speaking until asked to. Do not be the client who snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by doing or saying something inappropriate.
Written by Larry Kroll, Attorney At Law, October 2016