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Representing Yourself In Court

Tips For Representing Yourself In Court

  • Dress the way you want to be treated: professionally. Shorts, tanks tops, and bare feet are not allowed in the courtroom. Do not chew gum. Set pagers and cell phones to silent.
  • Be on time! Be seated in the courtroom with your documents [bring at least 3 copies] and your witnesses at least 10 minutes before court is scheduled to begin. Make sure you are in the right courtroom. Sit quietly in the courtroom, until your case is called.
  • Be prepared! Be ready to tell the judge what you want to happen and why. Be brief and state the most important things first. Make an outline to stay organized. Bring a pen and paper for notes. Organize your documents and evidence before coming to court.
  • Talk only to the judge. Do not argue with or interrupt the judge, the other party, or attorney. Each side will be given an opportunity to be heard.
  • NEVER lie to a judge, even if you are not under oath. Do not try to misrepresent the facts of your case or misstate the law.
  • Do not try to talk to the judge about your case unless the other party or attorney is present. The judge legally cannot talk to you alone.
  • Keep your comments positive and respectful. Do not engage in name-calling or make demeaning comments. Do not get emotionally upset or become physically or verbally threatening. If you need a break, ask the judge for a recess.
  • Behave professionally. Do not slam pens, papers, or doors. Do not laugh, sigh loudly, or make faces. The judge will be observing and behavior impacts credibility.
  • Do not bring young children into the courtroom. If your child cries loudly or cannot sit still, the bailiff will ask you and your child to leave.
  • Remember that everyone is human and can have a bad day. Do not take negative comments personally. Reply to legal and factual issues.
  • Attend a court hearing before your court date so you know what to expect.

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