What Is Proper Courtroom Etiquette?

When you have a court hearing approaching, it’s important that you be aware of expected courtroom etiquette—failure to do so, and subsequently making an unknowing error, could be unfavorable for your case. Below are four factors to be aware of before stepping into your hearing:

Dress Code

It’s expected that anyone attending a hearing should and will dress to impress—doing so shows a certain respect for the court. Failure to do so, depending on the extent, could even cause your hearing to get cancelled. Most judges expect a conservative and professional style of dress—something similar to what you might wear to a job interview. While the proper dress can depend on certain circumstances, such as the type of hearing or the person’s work or schedule, there are undoubtedly a few articles of clothing that will never be accepted, such as:

  • T-shirts depicting violence, profanity, illegal drugs or sexual acts

  • Shorts or miniskirts

  • Sunglasses or hats (expect for hats worn for religious purposes)

  • Tank tops or crop tops

  • Baggy pants that fall below the waist or are ripped

  • Flip-flops or bare feet

  • Pajamas

If you have questions regarding the appropriate wardrobe, ask your attorney what they would recommend. They’ll have a good gauge on what would be suitable for the hearing and will be happy to offer up tips or advice.

Appearing in Court

Before heading into your hearing, you want to make sure you understand certain etiquette that will be expected. Below are a few:

  • Always be on time. If you’re running late for some reason, make sure your attorney is aware.

  • Throw away any food, drinks or gum before entering the courtroom

  • Refer to the judge as “Your Honor” and stand when speaking to him/her

  • Only approach the bench when asked, and stand when the judge enters or exits the room

  • Enter and leave the courtroom as quietly and respectfully as possible

  • Do not interrupt the judge. If you need to ask for clarification, wait until they’ve finished speaking

Technology and Children

As a general rule of thumb, you want to avoid bringing anything into the courtroom that could serve as a disturbance or distraction. For this reason, absolutely no electronic devices are permitted in a court room. This includes cell phones, laptops, notebooks, pagers, or notepads. You will be asked to leave any electronics at home or in your car, as they should never be brought into a court room.

In addition to this, it’s generally advised that children not be brought to hearings. The court will not stand for distractions or interruptions in a court room, and therefor asks parents to consider whether it’s truly necessary to bring their child. If they do need to attend for one reason or another, it’s important that you have a talk with them about remaining quiet throughout the event, so that the court’s orderly function and process is not disturbed.

It’s important to be informed and prepared before stepping into a court room for a hearing. Do your research, and talk with your attorney. They understand the ins and outs of court, and will be able to help guide and reassure you as you prepare for your hearing.