While most of us probably see these tips as common sense, too often I see people seal their fate but making bonehead mistakes in court. Here are some important ones to remember:
1) Dress for court: Most judges will not say anything but will see inappropriate attire as a sign of disrespect for the court. No shorts, no tank tops, no flip flops and definitely don’t show off your tattoos. You don’t appear in court often (hopefully) so make an effort. Dress shirt, tie and slacks says i respect this court and the law. For women, a blouse and slacks and nothing low-cut or sleeveless. If you choose to wear a skirt or dress, it should reach knee level. A suit is optional but personally I think its a bit too much.
2) Leave your kids at home: Theres a common misconception that judges will see those little faces looking at their daddy in cuffs and that will pull on their heart strings and somehow help you. More often than not, its actually the opposite effect. Most Judges or Prosecutors don’t believe that a court of law is a place for kids. Also, they will see you as irresponsible for subjecting your kids to see their father/mother in handcuffs. I empathize with people who may not have child care but there is no excuse for having your children sit through a hearing where they may hear things they soon wont forget.
3) Be on time. Its common place for you to sit and wait for your attorney to call your case and talk to you. But if your attorney is waiting for your to arrive, thats bad news. Most judges have a radar that quickly picks up a client that is tardy. Please take into consideration that most court have lines to enter and then metal detectors to go through. Downtown courts have such long lines and parking issues that it may take you almost 45 mintues to get into your department after you arrive at the courthouse parking lot.
4) Be Courteous to all. From the minute you get out of your car, be on your best behavior. Too often I hear defendants in the elevator speaking in an inappropriate fashion about someone in court such as the prosecutor, defense attorney or judge. You don’t know who else is in that elevator with you. For the most part, people will treat you the way they are treated by you. Noone wants to go the extra mile for someone who is being abusive or obnoxious.