Written by attorney Matthew David Keenan

Your court appearance : what to expect and how to behave

Going to Court can understandably be nerve wracking. Here are some pointers:

1) LEAVE TIME FOR SECURITY. You will be asked to go through security, so be sure to come well in advance of your court time in case there is a back up at the check in station.

2) PLAN AHEAD FOR SECURITY. Security does not allow any weapons, knives, razor blades, powders, camera or camera phones, liquids, mace, pepper spray, corkscrews, scissors, tools, nails, radios, tape recorders, rolled coins, knitting needles, heavy chain items or heavy metallic belts, handcuff keys, markers, aerosol spray cans or glass items. Remove these items before coming into the courthouse.

3) YOU MUST APPEAR. In criminal, DUI and some traffic cases, court appearances are mandatory. If you fail to show up, a warrant will almost certainly be issued for your arrest.

4) BE ON TIME. Often an advantage to having a private attorney is that your case gets called first. If you are not there, it can send a signal to the judge that these proceedings are not important to you.

5) DRESS APPROPRIATELY. Appearances do matter. You should dress respectfully like you would to go to church on Sunday or to a formal dinner. Coming in dressed like you’re working in your garage sends a message that you don’t care. Avoid wearing shorts, sweat shirts or pants, clothing associated with gangs or clothing that is too suggestive. One woman found herself jailed for contempt of court because she wore a tee-shirt that referred to the female anatomy, and she was only there to give a friend a ride!

6) TURN OFF CELL PHONES. Cell phones and pagers must be turned off inside the courtroom.

7) NO TALKING. No speaking in the courtroom when the judge is on the bench.

8) NO FOOD. Do not bring food or beverages in the courtroom. Don’t chew gum.

9) CHECK FOR CHILD CARE IF NEEDED. Some courthouses provided children’s advocacy rooms for those who have to bring their children to court.

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