Updated: Jan 18
Regardless of the type of case you have, there are guidelines which should be followed when attending court. Your demeanor and appearance will have a significant impression on the judge and jury. This impression, whether good or bad, can have a huge impact on the successful outcome you are looking for. A courtroom is a solemn place and your appearance there should be taken seriously. You are expected to treat the court with respect. There are many ways to show your respect with both etiquette and appearance.
When you walk in the courtroom be sure to take off your hat and sunglasses. Turn off your cell phone or leave it at home. Don’t bring food, drinks, or gum. The buzzing of a phone, rattling of ice, or snapping of gum are sure to bring unwanted annoyance to the court.
When and how you speak is another way to show your respect. It is extremely important not to interrupt the judge and others in the courtroom. There may be accusations you don’t agree with, or testimony which is difficult to listen to, however, treat whomever is speaking with courtesy. Actions like eye rolling, disrespectful hand motions, leaning back in your chair, and falling asleep can have a very negative effect on your case’s outcome. When you address the judge be sure to use “Your Honor” and courtroom staff as “sir” or “ma’am”. It is always ok to ask your attorney whether you should respond to a question, even if its the judge who’s asking. Don’t speak to the prosecutor, victim, or witnesses. When in doubt check with your attorney and/or speak through him.
Dressing professionally is nearly as important as behavior. Sometimes attorneys are at a loss for how to describe appropriate courtroom attire. One attorney suggested his client dress for church when he came to court. The client showed up in a light blue tux with ruffled dress shirt. The only time he had been to church was his wedding so he wore his wedding tux. Another attorney suggested his client dress like she was going to work. He didn’t know she recently changed jobs and now worked at Hooters bar. Dressing as a professional will not only help show the court respect, but will demonstrate how important the proceedings are to you.
Some suggestions for what men should wear:
light colored, collared, long-sleeved shirt. Washed and neatly pressed. Worn tucked in.
slacks neutral color
simple, neutral color (black or brown) belt
simple, neutral shoes (black or brown) clean and polished
Suggestions for women are:
light colored, tailored shirt or blouse. Washed and neatly pressed.
tailored slacks or skirt knee length or longer
simple flats or pumps in neutral color
Clothing you should avoid:
clothing with holes
oversized or sagging clothing
gang affiliated clothing
large or excessive jewelry
For more information on dressing professional check this out. By presenting yourself in an appropriate manner you have the best chance at making a good impression in court. Attorney Jeff Wood is here to help you navigate your courtroom experience and make sure you have the best chance at a positive outcome.