Advising Your Client on Proper Court Room Conduct: 4 Easy Tips
So much of what we write about at FindLaw has to do with giving advice to attorneys -- but what about your clients?
We recently heard about a judge who lost his cool and yelled at a woman convicted of violently killing her boyfriend and stated "I hope you die in prison!" Apparently, it's not the first time he's said that to someone either, according to The Huffington Post. So what led him to make this outburst? The woman's disrespectful conduct: she interrupted the victim's aunt, snickered and rolled her eyes.
The judge was not amused.
Now that we got that out of the way, let's look at four things you can tell your clients about how they should conduct themselves in court.
1. Dress Appropriately
One of the ways that a person shows respect when going to court is by dressing appropriately. No, a client is not held to the same standards as an attorney as far as strict apparel guidelines, but clients should be dressed in a professional way nonetheless. No sneakers or sweat pants, tell your client to dress as if they are going to a job interview at an office.
2. Don't Be Late
This is a big one. Don't. Be. Late. Ever. Lame excuses for being late don't work either.
3. Be Courteous
One should follow proper rules of social decorum while in court. No fidgeting, laughing, checking cell phones, etc. -- basically, just behave. Sit quietly. That's it.
4. Speak Only When Spoken to
Along the lines of being courteous, advise your client not to talk out of turn while in court. In fact, it's a little harsh, but when it comes to speaking in court, tell your client to speak only when spoken to. No outbursts please.
Clearly, the woman in the video could have used some of this advice -- if not for her own sake, then at least to respect the victim's family members. Granted, if your client's conduct results in a judge's outburst, there's a chance it could be grounds for appeal -- but do you really want to go that route?
Better off to play it safe and behave.
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- Guy Court Attire 101: Neckties or Bow Ties? (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)
- Scalia 101: Why Attorneys Shouldn't Be Sarcastic or Hyperbolic (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)
- 5 Grammar Mistakes Lawyers Make (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)
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