How to Conduct Yourself during Court Appearances

No one wants to go to court.  No one wants to be on the witness stand.  As unappealing as going to court may be, there are things that you and your attorney can do before you even enter the courtroom to make the experience easier.   The easier it is for you, the more chance you have at having a successful result to your case.  Here Woodstock divorce lawyers offer a few tips to remember in the event you need to appear in court to resolve your case.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

Review everything as if you were studying for a final exam.  If you have supplied documents to the other side, make sure you know exactly what they contain.  You should review your deposition continuously as it is the script of your testimony.  The other side will likely attempt to show that you are not in command of your facts or will see if they can get you to contradict your previous testimony during the trial.  Your attorney should be able to give you a list of questions that he or she will be asking you.  He or she should also be able to give you questions or topics that the other side will be asking.  A dress rehearsal is a must for both trial preparation and your comfort level.

Your Demeanor Speaks Volumes

A court appearance is full of tension and pressure.  There are a thousand thoughts in your head and a thousand more on the way.  You have to do your best to keep calm and composed.  When your spouse or one of his or her witnesses says something that you know is not true at all, you can’t roll your eyes or mutter something loud enough for the judge or jury to hear.  Actions such as that may hurt your case more than what caused you to react that way.

Keep Your Cool When Things Get Hot

When it is your turn to testify, the other attorney may badger you, attempt to confuse you and try to get you to contradict yourself.  Take your time as you answer.  You can often answer “Yes”or”No” and then give a detailed explanation.  The hotter the other attorney gets, the cooler you should remain.  While you are not expected to be a robot, a display of temper, no matter how frustrating things get, can send an entirely incorrect impression.

Dress for Success

There are no specific rules as to how you should dress for court.  Your attorney will give you guidance in this regard.  Usually, casual dress is sufficient, but sometimes a suit and tie for a man and the equivalent for a woman would be best.  How you dress for court is a reflection of who you are.  If your appearance is sloppy, you may give the impression that your recall of important facts is equally sloppy.

Communicate With Your Attorney Subtly At Trial

There are times when you need to communicate with your attorney during the course of the hearing or trial.  You may think of a question that you want asked or point out something that a witness said that is incorrect.  If you say something verbally, you may disrupt the concentration of your attorney or his or her ability to listen to the testimony.  Make sure you have paper and pen with you and make notes to pass to your attorney.   Your thoughts as the trial progresses are extremely valuable.  You should have an efficient way to communicate these thoughts without distracting either of you from what is being said from the witness stand.

Don’t Let the Courtroom Intimidate You

Certain people will be present in the courtroom when your case is taking place—the judge, the jury (if necessary), a court clerk, perhaps a court reporter and a deputy to keep order in the court.  There may also be people in the audience.  Some of these may be people whose cases are going to be heard after your case.  They will be looking in your direction as you testify but most likely will be concentrating on their own case and paying little, if any attention to your case.  There will also be people, at times, who just like to come to the courthouse to watch interesting cases.  No matter who else is in the courtroom, once your case starts, you will be totally focused on your own situation with no regard as to who else is present in the same room.

Be Yourself

It may sound trite but it is very true.  Once your case starts, you will get into the flow of the situation.  There is no need to act in the way you think you should act.  A judge or jury can spot a phony in a second.  While you will not be relaxed by any stretch of the imagination, you should go into court totally prepared.  Take a deep breath when you need one before answering a question.  If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say that you don’t know.  If you can’t remember a precise date or fact, there is no shame in that.  You have gone through your entire life, being yourself.  Now is not the time to change.

The process of getting to court may be long and cumbersome.  Don’t let all of your hard work be ruined by not realizing how to handle things once you get there.

The Woodstock divorce lawyers at the Stetler Law Group assist clients with divorce and estate planning matters.  To schedule an appointment call us at (815) 529-4554.