Some people have never been in a Courtroom before. If you do have to attend a hearing, especially if it involves your family law matter, here are some things to be mindful of:
- Do Not Bring Gum and/or Food. Do not chew gum or take any food items inside the Courtroom. Most Courthouses have security and food items are prohibited unless you have dietary needs (in which case there may be an exception). It is simply not a good idea to chew gum or take any food items inside the Courthouse.
- Do Not Gesture. Do not make any gestures. This applies to your own case or if you are even observing someone else’s legal proceeding. It is simply not acceptable to make facial gestures, roll your eyes, or to scoff/mock anybody else in the Courtroom. It is important to note that the Judge is not the only person watching, it could be other Court staff (for example, the Judge’s law clerk, the Judge’s Judicial clerk, the bailiff, the Court reporter, or some other member of the Court staff). If you are caught making a gesture, it simply may prejudice your case and represents no upside.
- No Cell Phones. This should be obvious.
- No Inappropriate Attire. A Courtroom is a serious place. It deserves dignity, your attention, and a somber attitude. Clothing attire such as jeans, shorts, t-shirts with graphics or political messages are simply not appropriate. The Courtroom is not a place to make a political or personal statement. It is advisable to wear semi-formal or formal garbs. Do not wear something too revealing.
- No Weapons. This should be obvious as well, but firearms, explosives, and things of that nature are prohibited in Courthouses.
- Do Not Interrupt the Judge. If the proceeding involves you and if the Judge asks you a question, simply answer the question. At all time, it is important to not interrupt the Judge or anyone else, for that matter. Know that if a legal proceeding is in process, a Court reporter is taking down verbatim what is being said. Another reason for not interrupting anyone else in the Courtroom is because the Court reporter would not be able to take down everything if people are talking over one another.
- Do Not Bring Children. In a family law case, it is never a good idea to bring your children to your legal proceeding unless there is a Court Order or if your attorney instructs you to bring a minor child, a Courtroom is not the appropriate setting for a minor child, especially in cases that involve custody and parenting time.
- Do Not Whisper or Talk During the Court Proceeding. Even if you are sitting at the counsel table with your attorney, it is not a good idea to talk back and forth to your attorney. If there is something that you need to talk to your attorney about, write it on a piece of paper and provide it to your attorney. Of course, there may be exceptions, but typically any conversation should be started by your attorney and not you.
- Make an Outline of What You Will Say to the Judge. If you are representing yourself, it behooves you to make a comprehensive outline of what your argument is. This way, you have your thoughts organized and can express them in a coherent fashion.
- Do Not Approach the Judge. Unless you are asked, do not approach the Judge. If there is something that you need to show to the Judge, ask the Judge if you can approach and provide the reasons for it. Then wait for instructions.
If you need legal advice or representation in your upcoming case, contact our Minnesota Family Law attorneys for a free initial consultation today.