Testifying in court can be one of the most nerve-wracking and stressful times of your life. To make it a little easier, here are some helpful tips for preparing for court.
1. Be Prepared
This may sound cliché, but you can never be too prepared. Get a good night’s sleep. Eat a nutritious breakfast, something that will give you lasting energy throughout the day. Practice what to say with your attorney and run through what to expect. Bring a notebook and a pen so that you can take notes throughout the hearing.
2. Dress to Impress
Do not underestimate the power of first impressions, dress professionally. While times are changing, cover up tattoos, be clean-shaven, and well-groomed. Steer clear of short skirts/dresses, revealing shirts, t-shirts, or jeans. If you are bringing family members or friends, ensure that they dress appropriately as well. The judge may observe their appearance and behavior.
3. Be Early
Show up at least a half-hour early so that you have plenty of time to find your courtroom. Depending on the courthouse, you may have to go through security. Due to COVID-19, some courthouses mandate masks, bring one with just in case. Turn your phone off, or leave it in your vehicle. Nothing irks a judge more than a phone going off during a hearing. Do not talk about your case in the common areas of the courthouse, as you never know who may be listening.
4. How to Address the Court
Speak to the judge with the utmost respect. Address him/her as “Your Honor.” Wait for your turn to talk. Do not interrupt the judge, the opposing party, or your attorney. Listen carefully to the questions asked by the court and give short, concise answers. Above all else, tell the truth. If the court catches you in a lie, your credibility is shot and you opened yourself to potential perjury charges. Watch your reactions. Do not sigh, shake your head, or roll your eyes when you hear something that is not true or that you don’t agree with. Regardless of what is said, stay composed. This shows that you are a rational and reasonable person. Becoming angry and reacting rashly will hurt your case. If you are upset, it is okay to cry. You are only human and that may earn some sympathy from the court. However, do not fake your emotions as the court will see right through it.
5. After the Hearing
Regardless of the results, remain composed. Do not gloat, cry, or storm out of the courtroom as this may not be your last interaction with the judge. Thank the judge and court administration for their time. Ensure that you do not need to stick around to receive papers from the court such as a copy of an order. If you have an attorney, debrief with them regarding what you need to do next. If you feel the court made a wrong ruling, you only have a limited amount of time to file a motion for a new trial, a motion for reconsideration, or an appeal.
If you have a hearing approaching, it may be in your best interest to have an experienced attorney at your side to help guide you through the process.
The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as so.