For us and other attorneys, the courtroom is just another place in which we conduct our business, but you may have a different impression. Courtroom dramatizations on television or in the movies have probably given you a certain perception of what goes on in a courtroom and how people behave, but the reality is much simpler. As already stated, the courtroom is a place of business, and all present therein should behave appropriately.
Whether you are a litigant, an attorney, a juror, or a visitor, your dress should reflect an understanding of business appearance. This means crisp, clean business attire and even a fresh haircut if necessary. The courtroom is a fairly conservative place, so you should avoid outrageous hairstyles or colors, messy facial hair, and outlandish makeup. Also cover exposed tattoos and remove eccentric piercings if possible. Hats and sunglasses need to be removed before entering.
Mobile phones and other devices should be turned completely off and put away before entering the courtroom. Don’t tempt yourself. Phones are a distraction that no one in the courtroom appreciates, and it’s not worth making a bad impression on the court just to send a quick text message. Food (including gum), weapons, drugs, and alcohol are just a few things not allowed in court. If you aren’t sure about a belonging, either ask us or leave it at home.
The most important thing to remember is to be polite. Address the judge respectfully as “your honor” and answer his/her questions with “sir” or “ma’am.” Stand when the judge enters/exits the room, do not interrupt anyone, and stop speaking if the judge interrupts you. You should arrive early having already taken care of that day’s work obligations, childcare, etc. Remember, the courtroom is a place of ethics, so if you behave ethically, you’re on the right track.