While hiring an attorney may be in the best interest of a party to a civil lawsuit, the buck does not stop here. Choosing adequate and appropriate legal representation is an important tactic in any type of civil litigation, but making sure one presents himself to the court appropriately is also of equal importance. It is important to have the law on your side, but one should not overlook a few ways to get the judge on your side as well. The following recommendations are a “must” for anyone looking to win the judge over, and ultimately win the case.
It starts before your hearing. In this age of social media, it can be a temptation to give our facebook friends an intimate peek into our personal lives. However, this may not always be a wise thing to do. If you are currently in a child custody battle, posting pictures of hosting wild parties at your house may not be the best way to gain custody of your kids. If you are in a divorce proceeding, posting (and boasting) about the lavish gifts you are doting on your new lover with the money you and your still-current spouse technically share may be grounds for dissipation of marital assets, and may work to your disadvantage in court. In order to avoid having anything used against you in a lawsuit, a good rule of thumb is simply to protect yourself and curb the social media usage. For more information on the dangers of social media during a lawsuit, read our blog, “Social Media and Divorce: A Dangerous Combination.”
Be on time to court. Showing up late to court is an excellent way to get on the judge’s bad side right from the start. Parties to a lawsuit should look at the courtroom experience as a golden opportunity to present yourself in your best light to the judge. Don’t get off on the wrong foot before you even have a chance to show the judge who you are and why he or she should rule in your favor. Show up to court on time.
Respect the judge and court staff. Respecting the judge is a given. In the event that you are required to address the judge, make eye contact and address the judge as “your honor.” Also, do not forget to show the rest of the court staff (i.e. the bailiff, court reporter, etc.) respect. Follow the guidance of the bailiff, and speak audibly and clearly enough for the court reporter to hear.
Respect opposing counsel. It is no secret that you are in court because of a dispute you have with the other party – there is no reason to hide this fact. However, this is not license to express every feeling of disrespect and hostility you may have towards the other party and his attorney in court, i.e. no swearing, eye rolling, or exaggerated sounds of exasperation. Remember, you want the judge to view you as a respectful and respectable member of the community. While in court, do your best to reign in the disrespectful expressions and conduct yourself in a mature and respectable manner.
Dress appropriately. This cannot be stressed enough. There are no official rules requiring that you dress a certain way while in a courtroom – but if you want the judge to view you as a professional and self-respecting individual, dress as such. A person’s choice of clothing is a representation of who they are, or at the very least, who they want to be. In other words, pajamas, sweatpants, and any revealing clothing are absolutely out of the question.
For more information on how to best present yourself in court, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.