Top 5 Ways to Make a Good Impression in Court
1. Dress for success! Make sure you wear something appropriate for the situation. I know a lot of people are the “T-Shirt and Jeans” type, but that is not the proper attire for court. One does not have to wear a 3 piece suit, however, just something neat and professional looking. A good fail safe outfit for males would be a pair of dress pants and a shirt and tie. That look never goes out of style and it is appropriate for just about any situation. For the ladies, I am less versed in women’s fashion, but something conservative is most always a safe bet.
2. Body language is key when appearing in court. Do not give the judge attitude and do not act disrespectful toward the other parties. Nothing turns a judge off more when parties start arguing with each other in open court. When addressing the judge, always end your statement with “Your Honor” or “Judge.” When asked a question, answer by stating yes or no. Do not say “Yeah,” Uh Huh,” and other similar slang phrases.
3. Be prepared. When appearing for court, regardless of what type of matter it is, always do your homework and be ready to address the issues head on. Looking as if you are hearing the case for the first time will not only annoy the judge, but will also show the other party that you are ill prepared and not taking things seriously.
4. Show the court staff respect. Most courts have officers that assist with the overall procedure of the court. When entering the court building, litigants are often required to go through a metal detector for security purposes. Even the lawyers must abide by this. When doing so, do not roll your eyes at the officer and give him or her a hard time. Time and time again I see people arguing with the court officers because they do not want to be bothered with taking everything out of their pockets and taking off their belts, etc. By acting this way, it gives off a negative impression and will translate in the court room because you are now in a foul mood. Plus, the court officers will not show you any leeway as it pertains to who gets to see the judge first and so on. It pays to be nice to everybody, and that includes the court officers and clerks who are there to simply to their job and nothing more.
5. Communication. By communicating with the other party in a positive and productive manner, the judge will appreciate your decorum. Most court cases can be settled more efficiently if the opposing parties simply have a meeting of the minds prior to court and then put their settlement on the record. Regardless of the their differences, if parties keep the lines of communication open during negotiations, it will make way for an easier way to resolve the issues when appearing before the judge. Judges hate to have to sort through the minutia during a hearing. If the parties thoroughly communicate with the another, the judge will be able to better assess what is at the heart of the matter and will be able to adjudicate more efficiently.