Prepare to Enter Court with Confidence
There's only one thing worse than the embarrassment of stepping into the courtroom unprepared: making a mistake that hurts your chances of prevailing in your case.
If you are:
- Representing yourself in court ("pro se" or "pro per"); or
- An attorney with minimal or no courtroom experience
You'll want to view and study Courtroom Introduction: Etiquette, Procedure, and "Who's Who?"
Read on to discover the crucial courtroom basics taught in this video series that will help you appear confident and competent in front of the judge and avoid mistakes that could hurt your case or your standing in court.
Inside the Courtroom: People and Procedures
Litigation attorneys Neer Lerner and Elliott Malone take you on a journey inside a courtroom. Using simple explanations, they:
- Identify the principal players in court and explain their roles and duties — to help you make sense of court proceedings;
- Define key court terms so you can decode legal jargon and understand courtroom basics in a language you recognize;
- Walk you through the layout and fixtures of a courtroom, explaining how all the players fit together: where they sit, stand, examine witnesses, and more.
- Additional crucial details that will prepare you to navigate the courtroom regardless of your level of experience.
Courts have strict formalities and procedures that everyone is expected to follow — including parties who represent themselves in court ("pro se" or "pro per"). Violating these expectations — which include behavior and etiquette — could annoy the judge, delay proceedings, and get you reprimanded for not complying with court rules and expectations.
Court etiquette is one area you'll want to master if you want your case to move forward smoothly.
- How to address the judge and other parties in the courtroom to show respect and avoid embarrassing yourself or irritating the judge;
- Justice is not blind to your appearance — you must make a positive impression on the judge and jury and be respectful of court traditions and formalities;
- How to be an effective advocate without overstepping your boundaries or displeasing the judge;
- Ways to get (and stay) on the court clerk’s good side — why you should never underestimate their power in a court case — and how they can often make your life harder (or sometimes easier); and
- Additional tips regarding how to conduct yourself in court and avoid damaging blunders that could significantly reduce your standing and reputation.
Interaction and Communication with Opposing Attorneys
Before your court appearance, you might exchange written or verbal communications with the opposing attorney.
You will learn about:
- The inherent risks involved when communicating with opposing attorneys;
- Options for protecting yourself in written and verbal communication; and
- Suggestions for disarming aggressive or unpleasant attorneys
Plus, you will receive tips to help you avoid falling into traps set by opposing attorneys — while simultaneously working to resolve the case or get it ready for trial — as quickly and effectively as possible.
Preparing for Court Conferences
You will observe a simulated court conference before the judge in the fictitious lawsuit Patterson v. Don's Moving Company. The plaintiff, Mr. Patterson, represents himself without an attorney (“pro se” or “pro per”). The defendant, Don’s Moving Company, is represented by its attorney.
This professional dramatization will show you what you may encounter in a pre-trial hearing. Plus, you'll receive commentary on how to act, where to stand, how to state your case to the judge, and more.
Finally, we will analyze the simulation and provide additional insights to help you:
- Prepare to address the court with respect, confidence, and competence;
- Understand what judges like and what makes them "tick" — so you can make a good impression; and
- Learn and obey the rules — and comply with court procedure and etiquette — so you can present your case favorably.
Proper courtroom conduct is vital to your case.
Watch Courtroom Introduction: Etiquette, Procedure, and "Who's Who?"—and follow local rules in your state—so that you can be familiar with court procedures, avoid common errors, learn to interact with courtroom players, and have the best chance of prevailing in your case.
For more information about pre-trial litigation, watch Motions: Practice and Procedure, Written Discovery: Investigating and Proving Claims and Defenses, and Settling the Case: Negotiating and Drafting Settlement Agreements.