Five Steps to a Smoother Court Hearing

Contact Us

    Whether you’ve been summoned before a judge for a traffic ticket or a custody battle, a court hearing is almost always a nerve-wracking affair. Legal issues are their own special brand of stress, but it’s often the little things that can make a day in court go smoothly or not. From your clothes to your speech, it’s vital to prepare yourself to make a positive impression whenever your court date arrives. 

    Dress Well for Your Court Hearing

    A positive first impression often starts with your clothes. To prove you are a competent individual who understands the gravity of going to court, you’ll need to break out your Sunday best. While there’s no standardized, formal dress code for court, the best rule of thumb is to dress as though you were attending a job interview. That means nothing less that a suit with tie, pantsuit, suit jacket with skirt, modest dress, or professional dress shoes will do. Even if you identify as nonbinary, agender, genderfluid, or another gender identity, dress to impress, whatever that may be for you. Make sure your hair is neat and any makeup you may wear is tidy. 

    Arrive Early

    Being punctual shows respect to the judge, attorneys, and opposing parties, and will ensure the court hearing starts on time. While arriving 5 minutes early to your court hearing is technically on-time, it would present a better impression to the judge and attorneys if you showed up even earlier. No, you don’t need to wait around for an hour ahead of your court time. However, planning in advance for traffic, parking, and security and arriving 20 minutes early to your hearing can help you settle in before court is in session and shows professionalism. Running late due to an emergency or unforeseeable circumstance? Call the court clerk immediately to let them know. 

    Come Prepared

    Perhaps the most vital step to ensuring your court hearing goes off without a hitch is double-checking your documents. Legal matters require a shocking amount of paperwork, but all of it is important. Before leaving for your hearing, make sure you have a folder filled with all your relevant filed court documents, evidentiary documents, and other pieces of paperwork that may prove useful for the judge. Some people who get nervous in court may even benefit from making a list of documents to bring and points to make in their court hearing. Make sure all your paperwork is organized, completed, notarized, and filed correctly before presenting it to the judge. Improperly completed documents can cause massive delays and may impact the judge’s opinion of you. 

    Speak Respectfully

    Judges have worked long and hard for the right to sit at their bench. Respect their authority in their courtroom by abiding by proper courtroom etiquette when speaking during your court hearing. Always address the judge as “Your Honor” and do not interrupt them while they are speaking. No matter the state of your relationship to the opposing party, civility is king. Remain civil and courteous in the courtroom by allowing them to make their own case without interruption or name-calling. Although a court hearing can be terrifying, speaking loudly, concisely, and clearly will ensure the hearing moves along quickly. 

    Clarify Everything Before Leaving Your Court Hearing

    The judge will make a ruling or request at your court hearing, perhaps even several. It is your right and responsibility to understand the decisions made. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or clarify the judge’s rulings. Write down what they say, if you need to. Legal matters can be life-changing. Make sure you have a grasp of the situation as you leave.