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What is Appropriate Court Etiquette?

As most people know, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

This is true when appearing in court, with many people failing to realize there are numerous rules of conduct. After having posted bail, and the court date arrives, by understanding what is expected of them, a person may avoid embarrassment during their court appearance.

The Judge

What many people fail to remember once they enter the courtroom is that the judge represents the law itself, and therefore is the main focal point when those involved in the hearing are addressing the court. One of the biggest rules of courtroom etiquette is that when addressing the court, all persons should use the term “your honor” when speaking with the judge. This is particularly important during a bail hearing, when a judge will determine if a defendant is eligible for bail and then uses their discretion to set the amount. Also, when the judge enters the courtroom, everyone is expected to rise from their seats and continue standing until the judge sits down and informs everyone else they may do the same.

Personal Appearance

In another show of respect for the court, etiquette requires people to dress appropriately. Nice clothing should always be worn, with men usually wearing collared shirts that are tucked in and women wearing pants or skirts that fall at the knees or lower. Mini-skirts are not acceptable attire, while shorts or jeans are not recommended for men. Prior to a court appearance, people are also expected to get a haircut. By looking their best, people also show the court and the legal system the respect they deserve.

Electronic Devices
In today’s world, there are etiquette rules covering the use of electronic devices in the courtroom. Although more and more courthouses have established security rules that do not allow cellphones or other electronic devices to be brought into the building, some still allow people that option. However, any devices that are brought into the courtroom are generally expected to be turned off and not used while a hearing is in progress. If there are any recesses during a hearing, they may then be used according to courtroom etiquette rules.

Don’t Be Late
Because judges are very busy and their dockets usually full each day, arriving on time for a hearing is imperative. Anyone, whether it is lawyers or the plaintiffs and defendants in a case, are expected to be at the courtroom ready to begin their hearing at the approximate time. Failure to do so is considered to be a serious breach of courtroom etiquette, and also puts everything and everybody else on the docket behind as a result.

Along with these examples of courtroom etiquette, everyone who enters the courtroom is expected to exhibit kindness and respect toward others. Being polite to the judge, lawyers, court staff, and others is expected, as is not interrupting others as they speak. By following these and other protocols, it allows for the opportunity to have justice carried out in a fair and respectable manner.

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