Hardesty Law Blog

How you can prepare for your first courtroom appearance

By August 26, 2017 No Comments

Whether it is divorce proceedings or child custody hearings, a visit to the courthouse is both mentally draining and is guaranteed to leave a gaping hole in your wallet. As with any life changing experience, it always helps to prepare for the situation before tackling it head on.

It is important for you to get your head out of your own problems and see the bigger picture, become more pragmatic than emotional. The worst thing you could do is let the fear of losing manifest itself through a cowardly, timid appearance and attitude. Here are some common courthouse etiquettes you should learn before making that dreaded first time appearance.

1) Dress in your best clothes

First impressions are usually extremely important; it’s like having an extra pair of helping hands to help even out your odds in the battlefield. The fact that you care enough about the case, judge and the courtroom to bother putting on formal dressing shows a professional and serious attitude – this goes a long way in mellowing down the aggressive attitude the rest of the world might harbor against you. Even the punishments the judge may dish out will be comparatively lighter than if you had just gone to the place in dirty and tattered rags.

It is ideal for men to wear a navy suit with a blue shirt and a suitable tie. For women, it is ideal to wear a dress ensuring that it isn’t provocative.

2) Act respectfully

Although no one is forcing you to act with courtesy and respect, it is important to note that the judge does take into account your behavior before deciding on important decisions. Exercising a bit of self control in a life changing situation rife with passionate meltdowns and nasty verbal exchanges gives an important breather to the rather hostile environment. When your opponent speaks, it is important to not interfere. But when it’s your turn, make sure that your voice commands respect and attention from both the judge and audience. The tone and depth of your voice has the ability to subtly change the psychological battle in your favor. Calm minds prevail over ones that have lost their cool.

3) Make frequent eye contact

Look at people in the eye when you engage in conversation with them – it helps build credibility towards your case and wins the judge’s confidence in you. Those who consider themselves guilty are usually unable to make proper eye contact since they have already condemned themselves to punishment – they’re simply waiting for the judge to pass the ruling against them.

It is however creepy to just fixate your gaze on someone’s eyeballs for a prolonged period of time. This will only weaken your case and make you come across as a freak. The key is maintaining a healthy balance between making and breaking eye contact. Switch your gaze from the eyes towards the nose, the jaw and then right back to the eyes. There are many tutorials on the internet teaching viewers how to make efficient eye contact.

4) The first appearance is not reserved for trails

Most people have a common misunderstanding that their first courtroom appearance is when the trial will take place – this is not true. It takes several preliminary court attendances before a trial can be initiated against you, usually after a span of a few months. The first appointment is usually reserved to make you aware of the charges against you and to properly disclose the details of the case. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney from Waxahachie TX in person before making your appearance. You should learn your options with the lawyer, how strong your case might be and ways of improving your odds. Going in ‘guns blazing’ without an attorney from Waxahachie TX is like jumping into a hungry lion’s den. You are likely to get devoured without any means of defense.

5) Make sure your papers and documentations are in order

The worst indication that you aren’t serious enough about your case is failure to produce proper documentation and papers in the courthouse. Most people are completely unaware of the right kind of paperwork to present during their hearing; which is why you should hire a professional attorney from Waxahachie TX to handle the heavy weight lifting for you. How can you guarantee that you have the know-how of proper courtroom documentation? You can’t.

6) Be grateful towards the judge

Remember that the judge is taking out time from their personal and professional lives for your case. Even if they might otherwise be crass towards you and decide against you, it is important to maintain a neutral tone and respectfully thank them for their time. Any future hearings with this judge might go in your favor. Don’t let the negativity phase you.

7) Don’t interrupt the judge

Whether you’re on the offense or the dreaded case of being on the defense, never interrupt the judge when they’re speaking. Doing so is considered an act of undermining their authority and violates the codes of professionalism inside the courthouse. It is of paramount importance to turn off your cell phone during your court hearing, they tend to ring at the worst possible time. If the judge is speaking directly to you and your cell phone rings, it will not sit well with them and can be interpreted as disrespect. Not to mention the fact that everyone’s attention will shift away from the case and towards the pesky cell phone. You can even risk getting charged with misdemeanor and end up spending some time behind bars.

8) Be on time

Courthouses are marred with a tough schedule – there are hundreds of cases in a single day, thousands of documents to peruse through and a very bored judge who just wants to get things done with. Now imagine this bored judge having to wait 15 minutes for you and your attorney to arrive at the court – this attitude won’t sit well with the judge, will it? Familiarize yourself with the venue if it is your first time visiting the courthouse. Factor in any possible variables that might delay your timely arrival at the court, these could include external factors such as traffic and roads. It is better to arrive to the court an hour early than a minute late.

9) Be attentive

Dwelling too much on the consequences of what could happen should you lose the case might make your attention waver from the courtroom. It is important to remain vigilant and responsive in the court. Take energy juices high in anti oxidants with you if you feel your concentration dwindling.

10) Observe others around you

It is advisable for you to make appearances at the court before your first hearing and learn how others behave in a proper courtroom setting.  This way you’ll know how to interact with the judge and your opponents. Become familiar with the proper etiquettes of the courthouse by taking in a few firsthand accounts.
11) Keep the judge on your side

We understand that it is difficult to see the your opponent being reasonable since your entire future might hang in the balance because of this case. The judge has the final say over what’s going to happen and is the most important person for your case. This is why you should always put yourself in their shoes and try to think from their perspective. The judge is not acquainted with your personal problems and at least until the very first meeting does not view you as anything more than just another grievous person looking to avoid a costly lawsuit – the best way to make them empathetic towards your case is to avoid making them angry.

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