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How to Handle Yourself in Court

Posted on in Family Law

courtroom procedures, Geneva family law attorneyFor many people, the scariest part of any divorce or family law case is knowing what to do when they get into the courtroom. Although your lawyer will do most of the talking, you still need to understand what is expected of you and how to handle yourself in front of the judge. Even if you do not say a word, you can still leave an impression with the judge that affects your case.

How to Dress

The best way to make sure you are dressed appropriately for court is to dress like you would for a job interview. Shorts, t-shirts, and other casual clothes should be avoided. You should also not wear any clothing with profanity or a vulgar message. Dress conservatively. One of the ways you can show the judge that you respect him or her and the proceedings is by appearing presentable in court, even if you will only be there for a short hearing.

What to Bring to the Courtroom

While your attorney is likely to bring most of the important documents with him or her, you should also have a copy with you as well. Work with your lawyer ahead of time so that you are fully prepared for the proceeding. If you were supposed to bring a document or proof, failure to produce it when asked will not reflect favorably on your case.

What Not to Bring to the Courtroom

Do not ever bring food or drink into a courtroom. Some judges are more particular about this than others, but you do not want to irritate the judge. You should also not be chewing gum while in court. Judges do not want you to treat their courtroom like a café. You should also avoid wearing hats to court. If you do have a hat, you should always remove your hat when entering the courtroom and leave it off until you leave the courtroom. Some judges have been known to interrupt a hearing to ask someone in the back to remove a hat or to take his or her food outside.

How to Speak to the Judge

If you need to address the judge, you should refer to the judge as “your honor”. Be extremely cautious about words like “sir” or “ma'am”. While outside the courtroom these can be used as terms of respect, judges usually prefer to be called “your honor”. This also helps you avoid calling a female judge “sir” or a male judge “ma'am” when you get nervous.

Your lawyer will do most of the speaking to the court. You should only address the judge if you are asked a direct question by the judge. When speaking to the judge, you should speak loudly and clearly. Do not ramble in your answers. Give a direct response. The judge will ask follow-up questions if needed. Of course, you should never lie to the judge. Not only will this hurt your case if your lie is discovered, but you could also be committing a crime.

If you have questions about your family law case, you need to speak with an experienced Geneva family law attorney. Call 630-232-9700 to schedule your confidential consultation with The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today. 

Sources:

http://www.cookcountycourt.org/FORATTORNEYSLITIGANTS/RulesoftheCourt.aspx

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2017&ChapterID=56&SeqStart=1100000&SeqEnd=21700000

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