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How to Survive Your Day in Court

Published January 28, 2021

First-time court-goers aren’t the only ones who experience courtroom nervousness. Even the most seasoned of hearing attendees are prone to pre-trial jitters. Adopt the following practices to minimize feelings of angst and be fully prepared for your court appearance.

Know where your hearing is taking place. The only thing worse than appearing late to court is showing up at the wrong location. We suggest visiting your assigned courthouse prior to your hearing date to familiarize yourself with the property, parking lots, and any associated passes or fees. In COVID times, we also encourage software and network checks to ensure your equipment is up-to-date for your virtual hearing.

Dress for success. Whether you’re appearing in court to dispute a traffic violation or mitigate a more complex legal matter, you want to dress professionally. Avoid flashy garments and accessories. Conversely, avoid dressing down in a t-shirt or jeans. Rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t wear your outfit to a job interview, you likely shouldn’t wear it to court.

Confirm your attorney’s attendance. Unless you’ve elected for self-representation or your attorney plans to attend the hearing on your behalf, you want to firm up trial details with our attorney prior to your court date. Review case specifics, time and location of the hearing, and other pertinent details. If your attorney fails to appear in court, the judge will likely adjourn and reschedule the meeting. It is your responsibility, however, to consult with your attorney about his or her absence and the new case date.

Relax. Taking a deep breath is much easier said than done in high-stake situations, but when you can, be sure to leave your emotions outside the courthouse doors. Understand you must go through the motions of the hearing and that the judge will rule in one of two ways – in your favor, or against. Try not to get too attached to either the positive or negative outcome to best manage final ruling expectations.

Mind your manners. Although it’s one of the oldest rules in the book, using your manners speaks volumes in a courtroom. Replace “sir” or “ma’am” with “Your Honor” when speaking to the judge. Articulate your thoughts clearly and softly. And lastly, understand everyone’s time is of value during your trial.