If you have never been in a courthouse, then it is vital that you understand how you are expected to act while you are there. Since courtrooms are a bit different than other settings, there are many things that are expected of you. Understanding what is expected will help you to blend in with other people during your trial and it will help you feel more comfortable so that you can spend your energy concentrating on your case. To this end, here are some guidelines about how you should handle your first courthouse visit:
Always be Respectful to Everyone You Encounter
It is very important that you are respectful to every person that you come into contact with at the courthouse. Since judges and jurors don't walk around with signs that say who they are, the last thing you want to do is behave badly to the person scanning your belongings through the security system and then later discover the person behind you was your judge or a member of your case's jury!
Always be respectful and say "please" and "thank you" every time it is appropriate to do so. This will be a lot easier to do if you show up early for your case and give yourself plenty of time to get through the process and relax once you have arrived at the courthouse.
Speak Appropriately to the Bailiff and Judge
To show respect to the bailiff, you need to understand that they are law enforcement officers and should be called either "Sir", "Ma'am" or "officer". If you need to refer to the bailiff for some reason during your testimony, you should refer to them as "the officer" or "the bailiff" without pointing.
When you interact with the judge, you should refer to them as "Your Honor" as everyone else in the courthouse will. This is a sign of respect for their position within the court and it is expected that you follow this convention.
Take Off Your Hat and Sunglasses and Turn Off Your Cell Phone in the Courthouse
Finally, when you are entering the courthouse, you need to remove your hat and sunglasses. It is considered to be rude to wear either item within the courthouse. Additionally, you need to turn off your cell phone. Put your phone in your pocket or purse and if at all possible you should leave it there until you leave for home. For more information about how to proceed in court, talk with your personal injury or dog bite attorney.