Preparing to Appear in Court
Picture a scenario where you are going to court for the first time. Your adrenaline is pumping and sweat is dripping from your brow. At this point it would be helpful to have some tips on what to do and what not to do when standing in front of a judge.
- The first and most obvious tip is, don’t lie. Sounds easy enough, right? Lying to the court is the number one cardinal sin for many reasons, but most importantly it could land you in jail and add a felony to your record.
- Never say you were unprepared. If you come unprepared, don’t tell the judge that you didn’t know you were supposed to bring something. The judge will likely have little tolerance for that. Be sincere and honest, and apologize for forgetting or not bringing the recorded document or information.
- Do not curse. Expletives of any kind are extremely frowned upon. Unless you are quoting something out of an exhibit or someone else’s statement verbatim, do not curse.
- Do not exaggerate. Unless you are completely certain about something, stray away from saying it. If you are unsure and it needs to be said, say, “to my recollection” or “I recall.” This will signal to the court that you aren’t sure, but to your best belief that is what you remember.
- Do not go off topic when asked a question by the judge. One thing attorneys see happen frequently is a litigant wanting to tell the judge everything that is on their mind all at once. After weeks and weeks of stewing over case details, people tend to spill their guts out all at once. This will frustrate the court when the judge only asks a very simple question. Be to the point and direct when answering questions.
- If you think you need to memorize a script about your case, think again. Being genuine and speaking in your own words comes off much better and will likely help you portray yourself as someone who is honest. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for the questions you’ll be answering, but don’t memorize your answers word for word.
- Stay calm, cool, and collected. If you find yourself getting frustrated or angry, take a second and calm down. Judges do not like angry people raising their voice in their courtroom. The anger is allowed for the judge, and the judge alone.
At the end of the day the biggest piece of advice regarding court etiquette is, prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more. Going into court unprepared can easily put you in a tongue twisting scenario, one you cannot wiggle out of. The judge will know if you know the facts based on your demeanor and how you speak about the topic. Make sure you are prepared for questions both from the judge and the other party. Anticipate arguments and be prepared to respond appropriately. If you are prepared, then you are in a better position to be successful.
If you or someone you know has to appear in court, it is important to have representation. A good criminal defense lawyer, like a criminal defense lawyer in Arlington, TX, can help if the case you are facing is a criminal one.
Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm for their insight into some productive ways to prepare to appear in court.