How to Act in Court

Making a good impression is important, and there are few other places where making a good impression is as important as it is in court. There are many stated and unstated rules for attorneys, jurors, and all other attendees.

In legal studies, professional requirements for their etiquette is one of the first things they are taught. Rule number one, the judge is not only the representative of ultimate authority in the court, but also ultimate authority in law. Hence, the addressing of the court has the judge as the main point. When the judge enters the courtroom, you stand up and don’t sit until they do.

Legal professionals have their own legal ethics and rules of professional conduct that they must follow, but good behavior from all attendees is important. Being polite to the judge, seeing his significance and power in the court should explain why this is of utmost importance. You must also be polite to the opposing counsel and court staff, as well as dress appropriately.

Oftentimes, judges will have their own particular requirements and those will be posted when you go through security. The most common etiquette mistakes involve talking, dress, presentation, and electronic device usage in court.

While there will be some unique rules like that, there are some basic courtroom etiquette rules.

Wearing business appropriate attire is a must, so is arriving on time. If there is no special rule to put away your electronic devices, at least turn them off before coming into the courtroom. Politeness to the judge, opposing counsel, and court staff. Rising when the judge and jury enter the courtroom, and sit only when the judge sits. Stand when speaking to the judge, making or meeting an objection, or questioning a witness. Do not interrupt anyone who is talking. Refer to the judge as “Your Honor”. Direct all concerns and remarks to the bench, not the opposing counsel. Sometimes counsel will refer to the Judge, not as “Your Honor”, but simply as Judge. 

Some things that could get you favored in court: People who do well in court tend to be those who hold others in high esteem. Make sure you are able to express yourself in a clear way. Take your time answering questions any time you’re asked. Speak in a slow and nuanced manner, the more eloquent you are— the better chance you have of getting your point across. Speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard by the judge and opposing side, make sure to clarify questions that you don’t understand. Make eye contact to who you are addressing.

When you’re in court, for whatever reason, it is always in your best interest to get your point across— otherwise why are you there? To do this in the best way, and gain favor on your side, follow proper etiquette and make sure to keep control of yourself. To be calm and composed will not hurt you in court.

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