No first impression is more important than the one you make in court. Making a good first impression and maintaining a proper disposition throughout your trial is just as valuable as coming prepared with the right lawyer to represent you. Understanding and engaging in proper courtroom behavior plays a crucial role in the successful outcome of a case.
10 Rules for Proper Courtroom Etiquette
You may feel intimidated to enter a courtroom, especially when you’re on trial. Lawyers, judges, and other personnel practice courtroom etiquette every day. Practice these ten rules in the days leading up to your first court appearance to boost your image and gain confidence.
Understand the Judge’s Role
In court, you must understand that the judge not only represents the ultimate authority but also the law. When the judge enters the courtroom, you must stand until he or she takes a seat. You must stand when addressing the court, and maintain a certain level of formality when addressing the judge and others. Always refer to the judge as “Your Honor.” Be respectful of the judge, the court personnel, and opposing counsel at all times.
Maintain Civility at All Times
The judge will not tolerate disruptive behavior such as talking, laughing, or elevating your voice. Court proceedings are recorded; thus, silence is a necessity in the courtroom. Unless you must address the court, any other conversation must take place outside the courtroom. You must address direct concerns and remarks to the bench and not to the opposing party. Also, never speak over or interrupt anyone who speaks.
Plan to Arrive Early
Being punctual is one of the best ways to make a favorable impression. Anticipate road work, accidents, and other obstructions when deciding at what time you should leave for court so that you give yourself the best chance at arriving on time. Entering after the judge has taken the bench is an inconvenience to everyone in the room.
Leave Children at Home
Whenever possible, children should remain at home so as not to disrupt court proceedings. If you must bring children, they must be removed from the courtroom when they become restless.
Access to a Cell Phone is a Privilege
Those who have a cellular or smart phone in the courtroom must know that it may be revoked at any time. All phones must be turned off or placed in silent mode so as not to disrupt the court. They are subject to confiscation should the use of these devices present a distraction to anyone in the courtroom.
Recording Courtroom Proceedings is Prohibited
Only those who are authorized to do so may record court proceedings. Otherwise, federal regulations and orders prohibit the use of all use of recording devices in the courtroom.
Weapons are Prohibited
Weapons of any kind may not be brought into the courtroom. Even if you have a concealed carry permit in Louisiana, do not bring a weapon into court.
Do Not Eat or Drink in Court
Eating, drinking, and chewing gum are prohibited in the courtroom. You will be asked to leave if found doing any of these things. You may drink water from ap at counsel tables.
Dress Appropriately for Court
Your attorney should discuss the proper way to dress for court before your first court appearance. Typically, business-appropriate attire is preferred. It is not necessary to dress formally but to appear clean and neat.
Court-appropriate clothing and hairstyles vary for men and women. Your attorney should advise you on the specific style that suits your appearance, as well as the best color choices for your clothing. In general, bright colors and patterns present a distraction, while the color black may negatively affect the court’s perception of you.
Practice Proper Etiquette With Your Attorney
Being on your best behavior in court is especially important when you defend yourself against criminal charges. Attorney Eric G. Johnson of the John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm has decades of experience preparing his clients for court thoroughly. Believe it or not, your appearance and disposition play a significant role in the outcome of your case. Be sure to discuss the right way to behave and dress with Eric should your case go to trial.
At the John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm, we provide free and confidential consultations for all criminal cases. Give us a call at (318) 377-1555 or contact us.