Act Polite

Rude behavior is not tolerated in court, so simply be respectful and do not argue. Politeness is also a sign of professionalism, so do not get overtly excited and avoid interruptions. Patience is particularly important as well. You may have to be in the courtroom all morning and then return in the afternoon. You are free to leave the courtroom whenever you need to, but tell an officer of the court that you are leaving. Officers of the court include your attorney, or public defender, the marshal or the court clerk. If your case is called and you have not told someone you were leaving, the judge can issue a warrant for your immediate arrest.

Stay Focused

Cell phones, laptop computers, handheld stereos, CD players and other similar items can not be used in court. Sit and wait patiently while paying attention to how other people interact with the judge. Do not read a newspaper or book while in court, for this is disrespectful. Finally and most importantly, make sure to get enough rest the night before a court date. While it is a quiet place, you should ensure that you never fall asleep in court. If you do, it is likely that you will be escorted out by the marshal and forced to come back on another date, forcing you to lose yet another day of work.

Stay Organized

Before entering the court, you should double check your clothing and appearance as well as review reports, records, and any personal notes. Any other material that could be deemed as evidence should be reviewed to make sure it is intact and organized when bringing it into court. If you have any concerns, including those about testifying or have information that your attorney should know, it should be disclosed prior to entering the courtroom. The case should be reviewed by both you and your attorney and remember to disclose any “skeletons in your closet” to prevent your attorney from being surprised in court.

Reviewing the case prior to entering court will also help to refresh your memory. Be early when arriving to court or at the least, be on time! If you miss your case, you will have to reschedule and will end up missing another day of work, or you may be arrested for failure to appear, another misdemeanor.

Acting the Right Way

The way that you act will help to develop your credibility, either positively or negatively. To prevent from developing negative credibility, avoid being perceived as cocky, argumentative, defensive, immature, or uninterested. Do not carry any items in your pockets that could make noise or that could distract you during court. You will be evaluated by how you act in the courtroom, so avoid negative body language such as folding your arms, crossing your legs or chewing gum. Simply sit silently and do not slouch and when speaking, do so slowly and clearly. Listen when you are being addressed so that questions do not have to be repeated and always address the judge as “your honor”.

Courthouse Hours

Courthouses and clerks’ offices are open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., but are closed for lunch between 1 and 2 p.m. Offices and courthouses are closed only on legal holidays which include the following days:

  • New Year’s Day.
  • Martin Luther King Day.
  • Lincoln’s Birthday.
  • Washington’s Birthday.
  • Good Friday.
  • Memorial Day.
  • Independence Day.
  • Labor Day.
  • Columbus Day.
  • Veteran’s Day.
  • Thanksgiving Day.
  • Christmas Day.