Dos and Don'ts of Court


After eighteen months or more of pretrials, document preparation, and endless phone calls to your attorney, you are finally speaking to a Judge in court. How you proceed is of utmost importance for your future. These are the dos and do nots when in court.


  1. Do NOT let opposing counsel control your testimony.
  2. Do NOT let opposing counsel rile you. Control your emotions.
  3. Do NOT interrupt opposing counsel or the judge.
  4. Do NOT be afraid to cry if necessary. Sometimes, emotional questions on your children or a dissolving marriage can cause you to be sad and result in tears. The Court may break to allow you to compose your emotions.
  5. Do NOT make faces. The judge can get impatient with this childish behavior. It also may affect your credibility with the judge.
  6. Do NOT speak out in Court at inappropriate times. Screaming out “He’s lying” does not sway the judge. Let your attorney show in cross examination that the witness is lying.
  7. Do NOT argue with opposing counsel. If anger is rising, count to ten, take a drink of water, or ask for a short recess.
  8. Do NOT be sarcastic. These statements can anger the judge and muddy your legal argument.
  9. Do NOT cross your arms. This body language can be interpreted as disrespect and gives you the appearance of anger or uncooperating.
  10. Do NOT talk directly to your spouse. This procedure can be heated for both spouses which makes communication non-productive. If you have a question for your spouse, discuss through counsel.
  11. If your attorney objects during cross examination, do NOT answer the question until instructed to do so by the Judge.
  12. Do NOT be late. Allow extra time for traffic.
  13. Do NOT bring your children.
  14. Do NOT lie. Best case scenario is lies ruin your credibility. Worst case scenario, you will be arrested and charged with perjury which is a felony of the third decree.


  1. DO tell your lawyer everything. Your lawyer needs to know everything (good or bad) to present the best argument and protect you from cross examination.
  2. DO dress appropriately and comfortable. Courts are flexible with dress so long as you avoid shorts, sleeveless shirts, mid-drift baring shirts, flip flops (basically anything you would wear to a beach). It is okay to wear work clothes if you are going or coming from work.
  3. DO bring all documents you need, paper, and pen or pencil. Ask your attorney for paper and pen/pencil if you didn’t bring these items.
  4. If you feel faint, DO ask the Judge to take a break.
  5. DO take your time answering questions. If you need more time, pour a glass of water if available.
  6. DO visit the Courthouse a few days before your final hearing. You may want to wear your Court outfit to make sure you feel comfortable in these clothes and this setting. Think of this as a dress rehearsal.
  7. DO ask for clarification if you do not understand the question. Do NOT guess at an answer.
  8. DO get plenty of rest prior to the final hearing and remember to eat breakfast.
  9. DO appropriate preparations. Make sure you have met with your attorney in advance to discuss your testimony, witnesses, and exhibits.
  10. DO check in with the clerk or bailiff upon arriving at the court.
  11. DO stand when the Judge or Magistrate enters the room.
  12. DO address the Judge as “Judge” or “Your Honor.”

Keep these tips close for the best possible outcome for your litigation experience.  For more guidance in the court process, remember to talk with an attorney at Smith & Smith Law Office.  With proper guidence, you will not only survive this experience, you will thrive.