How to Behave in a Courtroom

85449032

When you are a defendant or plaintiff in a courtroom proceeding, you shouldn’t expect to prevail based on the truth alone.

No matter how convinced you are of the righteousness of your cause judges and juries won’t automatically give you the benefit of the doubt. If you want them to take you seriously you must prove your case and establish yourself as a reliable, trustworthy and dependable person.

Six Principles of Conduct

Fairly or unfairly, your conduct in the courtroom can play a decisive role in the final resolution of your case.

Here are a few important principles of proper courtroom behavior you should always try to observe …

  1. Dress for success

Comfort and personal expression don’t matter but the impression you make on the judge and jury does. Suits, dress shirts and pants for men and a business suit or other type of workplace-appropriate outfit for women are good choices. Be sure to wear dress shoes, not sneakers or sandals.

  1. Follow instructions to the letter

Do what bailiffs, court attendants and judges tell you to do. Go where they tell you to go and don’t assume a combative or non-cooperative attitude. If you don’t understand an instruction ask a court official about it politely and thank them for their response.

  1. Speak only when you’re supposed too

Don’t interrupt judges or lawyers—not even your own—and don’t speak to family or friends sitting in the gallery. Cell phones are forbidden in courtrooms so don’t even think about using one, even if court isn’t officially in session.

  1. Watch your body language

Body language that expresses excessive or negative emotion, such as eye rolling, hand waving, crossed arms, finger pointing or wild gesturing should be avoided. Listen intently when others are testifying, or conversing with the judge, and remain calm and under control when your turn comes to speak.

  1. Speak clearly and politely

If you are required to speak to the court, stand up, address the judge as “your honor” and don’t shout, mumble or whisper. Never show impatience if the judge or opposing attorney interrupts you to ask for clarification. Maintain eye contact with judges, attorneys or jury members as appropriate, and when you finish speaking say ‘thank you’ and return to your seat promptly.

  1. Answer questions directly, honestly and respectfully – but don’t let yourself be rushed

When testifying keep your answers brief and to-the-point. Resist the temptation to embellish your statements or accent them by gesturing or raising your voice. If you find a particular question combative or hostile don’t respond aggressively or react with defensiveness. Take your time to gather your thoughts before responding and never let the opposing counsel bait you or rush you into answering too quickly.

Respect the Court and the Court will Respect You

A composed, careful, dignified manner lets the judge, jury and court officers know you take the proceedings seriously. Demonstrate respect and you will gain it in return, and if the facts truly are on your side your chances of winning your case will be significantly enhanced.

Follow us at the Judge’s Chamber: Law Blog for more thoughts and insights on the legal process, in all of its complexities and dimensions.

Property Rights And Trespassing

486590504

Did you know that occupying on private land protected by Property rights is considered a trespass? The law will find you guilty and can send you away for a couple of months or pay some hefty fee you’ll probably regret. So to avoid such a debacle, here are some facts about property rights and trespassing you should know about:

What Constitutes a Trespass?

If you physically cross the boundary into someone else’s property, that’s a trespass. Property intrusion will either be on the land itself, above the surface or below the surface as well. So if you dig your way past someone’s property boundary or fly a plan or drone above the ground, you have already trespassed.

Intentional or Unintentional?

Intentional trespassing is when a person willingly crosses the boundary to someone’s property. It doesn’t matter whether the individual didn’t have the intention or clue they are trespassing; such an act warrants the property owner to seek action against the intruder. On the other hand, there is unintentional trespassing, which is when the intruder accidentally enters the property when it wasn’t their intention to. Such an act will be considered malicious only if it causes any harm to the property owner or anything confined within the said property.

Entering without Permission

The property owner may license an individual to enter the land when they please. However, the land owner has the right to revoke that license/permission after which it will be considered a trespass if the individual continues to occupy the land. Where the land owner does not withdraw the license, a trespass will be recorded when the individual stays in the land after expiry of their license. If the individual exceeds the agreement stated on the license, it is considered a trespass as well.

Entering without Privilege

This is a law that grants an individual, say the police, right to enter the property without the owner’s consent. This is usually to curb a nuisance or perceived harm within the property to retrieve someone else’s property on the land or to perform any duty mandated by the law.

This is generally the scope that entails Property Rights and Trespassing. Follow us at The Judge’s Chamber: Law Blog for more tips on legal rights.