At some point in your life, you may find yourself in a courtroom in front of a judge. Whether it be a criminal case or a civil case, no one every explains what is to be expected. Courtrooms are one of the few places left where traditions are still strictly observed. As an attorney, I am expected to dress and behave a certain way. There are also certain procedures that I am required to follow. While the expectations for non lawyers are different they are not any less important. Failure to follow the unwritten rules can lead to embarrassment or, in some cases, even jail.
So for starters, you should dress appropriately. Not everyone is expected to show up in a suit, but you are expected to wear long pants with a shirt tucked in. A collared shirt is definitely a good idea, and avoid wearing clothes that are too revealing or have offensive slogans on them.
Once you are in the courtroom, you should keep your conversations low, and you should find a seat in the gallery. You should never pass the divider (this is called the “bar”) between the gallery and the tables where the attorneys sit unless you are specifically told to do so by the judge. Listen to instructions by the deputies, bailiffs, and/or prosecutors because they will tell you how to proceed.
When the judge takes the bench stand up until the judge instructs you to be seated. Once the judge is on the bench stay quiet. If you need to talk step out of the courtroom, but be careful you could miss something important. Do not address the Court sitting down. If you have something to say, wait until you are called on and stand up to speak. Do not leave until you are excused by the judge. Finally, silence or turn off your cell phone. Nothing is more embarrassing than sitting in a quiet courtroom, have your phone ring, and interrupting everything. It may lead to expulsion form the court, the loss of your cell phone, or even a contempt charge.
If you remember these few things you can reduce the anxiety of an already stressful situation.