Essential Rules For Courtroom Conduct
Every client should understand that their conduct in a courtroom can significantly affect their case. Attorneys must relay these rules, but it is ultimately the client’s responsibility to adhere to them. These rules largely revolve around basic courtesy, decency, and obedience to court protocols.
A prevalent issue in courtrooms is the inappropriate use of phones. Whether it’s a phone ringing during a hearing, causing a distraction, or someone attempting to take a picture or record the proceedings, such behavior not only breaches court etiquette but also has serious repercussions. It not only disrupts the ongoing hearing but also throws off the court schedule, affecting all other cases slated for that day. The best advice here is to keep your phone silenced and tucked away.
Respect for all courtroom personnel is paramount. The bailiff, for instance, manages the flow of the courtroom, telling people when it’s their turn or directing them where to sit. Treating this key player disrespectfully can have unintended consequences, like your case being moved to the bottom of the stack, leading to a longer wait time. It’s vital to know who the court personnel are and how to treat them respectfully.
Additionally, it’s crucial to allow for clear and orderly communication in the courtroom. People often start answering a question before it’s fully asked, which disrupts the court reporter’s task of documenting every word said during the hearing. Since only one person can be recorded at a time, interrupting or speaking over others can result in an unclear court record.
Patience is key: wait for the entire question to be asked before responding to ensure that the message is both accurately heard and recorded, as the transcript may be needed for an appeal or future hearing.
Preparing Clients For Court And Maintaining Composure
Absolutely, there are strategies to help clients remain calm and composed during court proceedings. First and foremost, I remind clients that while they may hear negative remarks about them or our witnesses, there will be a time for us to tell our side of the story. During the opposing counsel’s time, focus on our narrative, and breathe. Anxiety often causes people to hold their breath or become fidgety, which can be distracting in a courtroom.
For clients who tend to fidget, I recommend discreet movements that are less likely to cause a distraction. For example, they can place one hand on their thigh and tap gently with their index finger. This can provide an outlet for nervous energy without drawing attention or creating noise.
As for note-taking during proceedings, it’s dependent on the individual client. For some, note-taking is a beneficial way to engage with the proceedings, jotting down important points or inconsistencies. However, for others, it can become a distraction. Clients who tend to lose focus on the proceedings because they’re deeply engrossed in their note-taking or those who display signs of agitation while doing so might be better off not taking notes. The key is to maintain composure, stay attentive, and participate appropriately in the hearing.