Criminal Defense

Court Etiquette: How to Be Respectful to the Judge & Prosecutor

January 25, 2022 by Sarah Edwards in Criminal Defense  
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Do Show Respect

Going to court can be a very intimidating experience. This is especially true if you have never been to court before.

The first time you go to court, you may not know what to expect. Many people are unsure about appropriate courtroom behavior and etiquette.

How should you behave when the judge enters the court? What is the appropriate way to be respectful to the prosecutor?

Below, we will discuss some important tips for showing proper reverence in the courtroom. No matter why you are attending court, it is important to understand the best ways to show respect.

How to Show Respect to the Judge

One of the most important rules of behavior in a courtroom is showing respect to the judge. In a courtroom, the judge is the foremost authority regarding questions of law within the courtroom.

When the judge enters the room, everyone who is present should stand up to show respect. Those who are present in the court should not sit until after the judge sits.

Attorneys that are addressing the judge should begin by saying the phrase, “may it please the court.” If you are required to speak with the judge, be as respectful as possible.

Make sure to address the judge with formal and reverent terms. Always make sure to address the judge as “your honor.”

If the judge asks you questions, answer with respectful phrases like, “yes sir,” “yes ma’am,” or “yes, your honor.” Never speak in a dismissive or rude tone of voice, even if you are asked uncomfortable questions.

Maintaining eye contact with the judge is also incredibly important. Doing so shows that you recognize the gravity of the judge’s legal authority and respect their time.

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General Courtroom Etiquette

Guidelines of behavior in the courtroom might seem irrelevant to the outcome of your case. However, following the rules of etiquette can have a significant impact on your courtroom experience.

Consider these general tips when appearing in court:

  • Make sure to be early
  • Stand anytime you are speaking to the judge
  • Never cut anyone off or interrupt them
  • Hold the door for the prosecutor or others
  • Never chew gum, eat, or drink in the courtroom
  • Only speak when it is absolutely necessary
  • Photography and cameras are usually prohibited

You should turn your phone off before entering the courtroom. It is also important to locate the proper courtroom plenty of time before you are set to appear.

It is best to arrive early and wait. Arriving late to court is very disrespectful and could negatively impact the trajectory of your case.

If you are the plaintiff, your case may be dismissed following a late arrival. If you are the defendant, the judge may find in favor of the opposing party.

If you have children, you should not bring them with you. Do your best to make childcare arrangements long before your court date.

If you have other questions about appropriate behavior in court, make sure to speak with a knowledgeable trial attorney. Before your courtroom appearance, your legal representative can help you know what to expect.

How to Dress for a Court Appearance

The way you look is very important when you are appearing in court. The courtroom is a formal setting.

Because of this, it is vital to wear business-appropriate clothing.

Make sure to avoid casual clothing items, such as:

  • You should never wear hats in the courthouse. It is critical to appear in formal attire to show respect to the judge and the courtroom.
  • Beyond clothing, you should also make sure to take care of personal grooming before your court date. If you have facial hair, it should be trimmed or shaved before your appearance.
  • Cover any tattoos and remove any piercings. A good rule of thumb is to select a business-appropriate and conservative outfit.
  • If you are unsure about what to wear, consult with your legal representative. Attorneys with trial experience can help you to decide on clothing that is appropriate for the courtroom.

Respecting the Prosecutor

If you are facing criminal charges, the prosecutor is the attorney appointed to oppose you. It can be emotionally difficult to hear a lawyer attempt to prove your guilt.

However, you should never argue with the prosecutor or speak out of turn. Maintain your composure throughout the court proceedings.

When the prosecutor is speaking or questioning witnesses, you should never respond to indicate displeasure. Even if you disagree with the statements being made, you should never make faces, make noises, or roll your eyes.

Contact a Skilled Attorney at Esfandi Law Group

If you need accomplished legal representation, reach out to the team at Esfandi Law Group for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529

Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.

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How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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