Any court appearance is no small matter. This is especially true when the appearance is for your court hearing. To say an upcoming court hearing can be intimidating is an understatement. Not only will proper preparation help ease the nerves heading into your court hearing, but it will also improve your chances of winning your case.
Prepare For Your Hearing Like You Would Prepare For A Marathon
Of course, the potential consequences for losing will depend on the type of case, but regardless of if your court case is criminal, civil, or family law related, you do not want to set yourself up for failure. This means that legal preparation is not only important beforehand but also your physical preparation. A good night’s sleep before your court date is important to be alert and look presentable. A full breakfast will give you the energy to get through the day and keep your mind sharp.
It is also a good idea to think ahead and pack a bag with anything you might need to get through the day including breath mints, high-energy snacks, extra pens and notepads, and anything else you expect you’ll need.
Practice Makes Perfect
It is never a good idea to go into a court case underprepared. The last thing that you want to happen during a court hearing is to be caught by surprise or unprepared. This is why it is vital to practice for the hearing over and over to minimize the chances of an unexpected turn of events. It is always a good idea to practice with an attorney who knows the ins and outs of your type of case and will prepare you for your day in court. Before your court appearance, insist that your attorney runs through what to expect, especially regarding things like direct and cross-examination.
Organize Your Important Documents
Being organized is a key part of preparing for upcoming court cases. Court proceedings require a lot of different documents, each highly important, and you do not want to misplace or forget about any of them. Make sure that you have organized copies of speaking notes, outlines, exhibits, and copies of pleadings, both yours and your opponent’s. Make sure you have additional copies in case you need to hand them to the court, court clerk, and opposing party.
Dress For The Results You Want
First impressions are important, and one of the best ways to make a good impression is to dress appropriately for your day in court. Dressing professionally and appearing well groomed is more important than you might think. Judges have total discretion over their courtroom; if you are not appropriately dressed, they will look upon you unfavorably.
It is also important to consider that the courthouse may be an old building with unreliable heating and air conditioning. Hence, it is wise to be prepared to look presentable with and without a jacket. Remove any jewelry that may be distracting or considered unfavorable, as well as avoid things like short skirts and too tall heels that may be considered unprofessional.
Get There Early
Author Eric Jerome Dickey once wrote “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!” Nowhere is this more true than going to court for your hearing. You can never go wrong with arriving too early at the courthouse. Give yourself plenty of time to account for unforeseen things like traffic, parking, and trouble locating your courtroom. If you arrive early, you also have extra time to double-check and see if you have everything you need.
Honor The Golden Rule
Court hearings can be complicated situations. Depending on the type of hearing, things might be said that get under your skin. How you hold yourself and act throughout the trial will make a huge difference in the long run. There are many moving parts and parties involved throughout the hearing, and it is important to show respect to everyone in the courtroom. This means the judges, jury members, court reporter, court clerk, court officer, any bystanders, and even your opponents. Losing your temper, raising your voice, speaking with inappropriate language, or any other disrespectful behavior will do absolutely nothing but damage your image and hurt your chances of winning.
Remember your manners at all times during a court hearing. Always refer to the judge as “your honor” and never interrupt them when they are speaking. The same goes for anyone else you may have to interact with. Use polite language like “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Ms.”, “Sir,” “Ma’am,” “Please,” and “Thank You” whenever it would be considered appropriate.
Finish Your Hearing Strong!
Depending on the case, trials can be long, stressful, and emotional affairs. It is vital to remember to act respectfully regardless of the result handed down at the end of your hearing. Keep your composure and refrain from crying, gloating, or acting out disrespectfully, whether you win or lose.
Thank the judge and the rest of the courtroom staff for their time hearing your case. It is also usually a good idea to debrief with your attorney to summarize the ruling and understand your next steps.
Have The Right Attorney In Your Corner
Any court appearance is a big deal. When you have an upcoming court hearing, the stress and anxiety can often be overwhelming. Having the right attorney by your side makes all of the difference in the world. You want an attorney with experience who will listen to your needs and take your case seriously. At Antol & Sherman, PC, our team of criminal defense and family law attorneys has practiced law for a combined total of over 60 years and are dedicated to providing people in Northern Arizona with personalized, aggressive legal counsel when they need it most.