What You Need to Know Before Going to Court

What You Need to Know Before Going to Court

YOUR APPEARANCE IN COURT

  • Dress as you would for an important event.
  • Don’t wear T-shirts or clothing with messages.
  • Don’t dress down to gain sympathy.
  • Don’t chew gum.

 

WHAT TO BRING AND NOT BRING

  • Don’t bring a weapon – even if it is just a pocket knife, it will be confiscated.
  • Photography and audio recording are not allowed.
  • Cell phones and computers may not be allowed in the courtroom due to their recording capabilities.  Leave them in your car.
  • If you have a ticket or paperwork showing your court date, bring it with you. 
  • If you are scheduled for a trial, bring witnesses and all evidence that you want the judge to consider.

                       

YOUR COURTROOM BEHAVIOR

  • Be polite, no matter what is said in the courtroom.
  • Be on time for court.
  • Don’t react to what is said by other witnesses.
  • Don’t argue: Not with the other party, not with their attorney, and not with the judge.
  • You are expected to be silent while waiting to be heard. If you, your children or other members of your group are loud or disruptive you will be asked to leave the courtroom. 

 

WHEN YOU ARE TESTIFYING

  • Listen to the entire question being asked before you answer.
  • Tell the judge if you do not understand a question.
  • Answer with only “yes” and “no” when you can.
  • Answer questions even if some seem stupid or foolish to you.
  • Don’t mumble; speak loudly enough to be heard by everyone in the room.
  • Don’t lie about anything, not even white (small) lies. If you are discovered to be lying, the judge may find it hard to believe you when you are telling the truth.
  • Don’t argue with the questioner.
  • Don’t ask questions back: “What would you do if?”

 

IF YOU HAVE EVIDENCE

  • Bring the original and a copy for the judge and other litigants or counsel.
  • If you have evidence recorded on your phone, print it.  The court will have to keep the evidence you offer, and you would otherwise have to leave your phone at the courthouse.  

 

HOW COURTS SERVE YOU AND THE PUBLIC

  • Courts provide neutral and consistent judgments to all defendants. The judge who presides over your hearing will be fair and open-minded.
  • Courts treat all defendants charged with the same kind of offense in the same way.
  • Courts treat all defendants politely, with courtesy, dignity, and respect.
  • Courts take defendants’ concerns seriously. We understand that you might be worried about the hearing and its consequences, and we are prepared to listen to your concerns and offer explanations as best we can.
  • Courts allow defendants to explain the situation from their perspective.

 

 

Revised 12/19/18