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What you need to know about going to court

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Going to court can be a scary thing.  However, there really is nothing to fear if you follow some simple rules. Watch this video we prepared in an actual courtroom that will walk you through what to expect.  Also, Here are some I would recommend:

  • Always be on time. Nothing says “I don’t respect this court and anything about it” more than failing to be on time. Being late is a good way to start off on the wrong foot, sort of like spotting your opponent 3-4 baskets at the beginning of a hoops game, or a touchdown in football, or 5 runs in baseball. If you are the chronically-late type, I suggest that you calendar the ​court for a half-hour earlier than actually scheduled. Parking can be an issue at our county courthouse, so be there even an extra 15 minutes for parking.
  • Dress for success. Business casual is fine. T-shirts with obscene messages, jeans with more holes than cloth, dirty and smelly clothes, and any attire that gives the impression that it was acquired from a dumpster will send an overly-negative message.  Also avoid school logos and colors: if the judge went to a rival school, he or she may wonder whether there is some nose-thumbing at play; if he or she went to the same school, the judge may think there’s some brown-nosing going on.
  • Speak up. The judge has to hear what the witness says if the judge is going to take it into account. A lot of our old courthouses have terrible acoustics, making it hard to hear.
  • Don’t speak over anyone. This is a chronic problem that can result in an unintelligible record. Wait until the question is completed before speaking. Never interrupt the judge.
  • When you hear “Objection” or “Object,” stop speaking. Let the judge rule and follow the instructions of the court. Objections are one way we can protect you, and if you persist in answering over objection, this may hurt your case.
  • Answer the question asked; don’t volunteer. Most questions call for a simple “yes,” “no,” “I don’t know,” or a simple date, fact, number, or the like. Volunteering information is almost always unhelpful, and can be damaging. Example: “No, I have never been convicted of a felony … but … I have fourteen convictions for petty theft, shoplifting, and simple assault.” And remember, “I don’t know” is a perfectly legitimate answer; wading off into speculation will only make trouble.
  • Be familiar with the 8.05 financial statement for divorce/custody cases. Know how the figures for income, expenses, debt, and assets were derived. Be able to explain and defend them. It’s never impressive when a witness says something like “I don’t know where that $250 figure for entertainment came from; I guess my lawyer put that there."
  • Attitude makes a difference. A beautiful butterfly receives more favorable treatment than a scorpion. An earnest witness who clearly is trying to be truthful and doing her best will receive more favorable consideration than a petty, spiteful, sarcastic, bitter, argumentative, evasive witness. It’s just human nature.
  • Know your case. We will talk about what the law requires for your case and you need to understand what is needed to prove your case, and the best ways to answer truthfully the key questions. We will also discuss the major points that you will face on cross examination.
  • Your judge has idiosyncracies. Everyone does, even judges. If you know from experience that the judge does not want people chewing gum in the courtroom, I will tell you ahead of time.  All judges hate cell phones going off and you may get it taken from you if it goes off in the courtroom.

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T: 228 215 2787 | F: 228 284 1893
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