Most civil cases resolve before court; however, a small percentage go to trial. A first and good impression goes a long way toward building a rapport with the judge. A person who acts like court is a burden to attend and dresses casually–like going to the beach–makes less than a good impression.
This blog addresses five key things to do and not to do in court and includes tips from recent observations in our recent trials.
First, normal emotion is expected. However, scoffing at a witness, laughing, or interjecting sentences out of turn shows disrespect for the Court and the judicial process. In some cases, litigants swear or throw items in court. This is direct criminal contempt of court and can lead to incarceration and fine—certainly if anger is an issue in the case (like a criminal battery in a fight or marital violence), which speaks volumes to the judge.
Second, be yourself. Making an admission that could reflect you are part of the issue, such as what led to the breakdown of the marriage and why this Court should decide as it does, could provide your fault with credibility. Generally, no relationship, marriage or other civil matter that proceeds to a court or jury trial has a party without some fault. Admitting mistakes makes you believable.
Third, through your counsel, make it clear what you want from the Court in the way of decision, and why. Very often litigants just “gripe” about the other side without giving the Court the evidence to decide the case and how to decide it under the law. Putting on the evidence is the parties’ burden.
Fourth, be sure of the use of your “smoking gun”. Often times the stressors of trial cause myopic focus on a text or email that you believe “will win your case.” But when it is admitted, the other side sometimes then presents the rest of the email or text string, and this key evidence works against you. Sometimes, it could even make the other side’s case
Fifth, listen to your attorney. There is so much emotion and focus on “pet” issues at times, that what you think is important has 1). already been put into the evidence, 2). is harmful to your case, or 3). Irrelevant, immaterial, and may alienate your position with the Court.
We hope this blog helps you with your counsel to consider that the trial itself is a key time, and there are ways you as a litigant can help or hurt your case if you understand the process and the concepts in this blog. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle civil, domestic and criminal litigation, as well as appeals throughout the state. This blog is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.