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Tips for Your Day in Court

Don’t Miss Your Court Date

Court is not an appointment that can be missed or rescheduled. If you miss your court date (including being late) there could be serious consequences – your case could be dismissed or the court could enter a judgment against you. If you have a serious reason why you can’t go to court, you must request an adjournment.

Get There Early

You should allow plenty of time to travel. Consider the traffic, weather, parking, frequency of public transportation, and extra time needed to get through security at the entrance to the courthouse. Being late can make you anxious and unable to do your best. Remember that court may be an all day affair.

Be Prepared

Bring your files. You should have a file with copies of all of your court papers and papers from the other side. Bring a notepad and pens in case you want to take notes. Bring change in case you need to use the copy machine. Visit the courthouse and courtroom ahead of time, if possible, so you are comfortable with the location and observe how things work. Make notes of the questions you want to ask. Practice your presentation with friends and family.

Bring Your Evidence

If you are supposed to bring evidence and witnesses to the courtroom, bring everything. If you have documents or pictures, bring the original item and two copies. Ask your witnesses to arrive early and dress nicely. Some documents can’t be used as evidence unless the right person is in the courtroom to explain the document and answer questions about it. You can learn more by reading a Civil Court publication on how to try or prepare for your case.

Dress Nicely

Wear conservative clothing. T-shirts with curses, belly shirts, plunging necklines, sunglasses, and torn clothing are not appropriate. You do not have to buy new clothing for court, but remember it is a formal place and you want to be conservative and respectful.

Act Properly in the Courtroom

Certain behaviors are not allowed because they are noisy, distracting or disrespectful. You should turn off your cell phone or pager when you are in the courtroom. You can’t chew gum, eat, sleep, wear a hat, listen to music, talk on a cell phone, take pictures, or carry a weapon in the courtroom. You should enter and leave the courtroom quietly, so you do not disturb others.

The courtroom calendar is usually posted outside the courtroom. Look for your case and write down the calendar number. Tell the clerk or officer that your are there and give them the calendar number. Let them know if you need an interpreter. Listen for your case to be called. You should stand when you speak to the Judge and address the Judge as “Your Honor.” You will be expected to treat others in the court respectfully, no yelling or cursing or cutting someone off when they are speaking. You should speak clearly and slowly. Your words are being recorded, either by a machine or a person. If you mumble, speak to quickly, too softly, or answer by shaking or nodding your head, the record will not be accurate.

Before You Leave Court Make Sure You Understand What Happens Next

Ask the Clerk, or Court Attorney if you do not understand something or are confused about what you are required to do. If you are supposed to come back, make sure you know when and where. If you are supposed to submit something to the court, make sure you know what to do. If the Judge made a decision or you settled the case, make sure you have a copy of the order or stipulation. You can also visit the Help Center in the courthouse for legal and procedural information.





























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