Why Courtroom Etiquette Matters

Civil Litigation - September 4, 2017
Judge in a courtroom using his gavel

Going to court can be an intimidating experience. It’s important to follow the appropriate standards for how to speak, dress and conduct yourself in court. Failing to follow proper courtroom etiquette could potentially have a negative impact on the outcome of your case. If you need legal assistance call your LegalShield provider law firm.


  • Listen to your lawyer. Your attorney may have first-hand experience working with the court staff and the judge who will hear your case. Some judges may have unwritten rules or preferences about behavior in their court. Follow the advice your attorney gives you regarding courtroom appearance and behavior.
  • Wear business attire. Dressing well shows you have respect for the court and the judge. For men, a tucked-in shirt, tie and pants are appropriate. Woman may consider wearing a dress or a blouse with a skirt or pants. Your attire should be business conservative; you are not dressing up for a party. Avoid showing skin or wearing flashy clothing. Some courts even have dress codes and won’t allow you to enter the courtroom if you do not follow the dress code. Failing to meet dress code requirements could make you late or even cause you to miss court. Ask your attorney or call the court clerk’s office to find out if there is a dress code.
  • Do not bring your phone to the courthouse. Most courts do not allow anyone other than attorneys, law enforcement or court personnel to bring cell phones or other electronic devices into the courthouse. Even if phones are allowed, there are few more inappropriate times for a phone to ring than during a court hearing. Also, do not text or play games while you wait for your case to be called.
  • Arrive to court early. Arriving late or failing to appear in court could have serious legal ramifications. If for any reason, you are late to court you should be apologetic and present a valid and preferably verifiable excuse. Your best bet is to give yourself plenty of time and to arrive early.
  • Wait patiently for your case to be heard. If there are a lot of cases on the court’s docket, you may have to wait for some time for the judge to call you before the court. Do not talk to those around you, appear impatient, sleep or cause any type of disturbance in the court. You may not be interested in the other cases before the court, but it does not hurt to pretend otherwise.
  • Be friendly and cooperative with all the court staff. The clerks, bailiffs and other court administrators know and work closely with the judges. Being impolite to them will not help your case.
  • Only speak to the judge when directly addressed. Address the judge as ‘Your Honor’ and speak in a polite and deliberate manner. Speaking out of turn or interrupting the judge, attorneys or other witnesses, even when you strongly disagree with what they say, will do nothing to help your case. While judges should rule solely on the merits of a case, behavior and demeanor may still influence an outcome.
  • Keep your emotions in check. Smile and wait patiently while others speak. Let your attorney argue the case. Do not roll your eyes, make exasperated noises, speak in a sarcastic, aggressive or threatening tone. If the court does not rule in your favor remain calm. Talk to your attorney after court to find out if you have any other legal options.