We attorneys spend much of our working hours in court. Thus, an environment that seems completely strange and intimidating to most people is very familiar to us. However, non-attorneys should know that certain standards of conduct are expected and even demanded from litigants when they are in court. Here are some of the most basic rules about how you should conduct yourself in court:
- Dress appropriately: You should always dress conservatively when appearing in court. This means that you will most likely want to wear what would be considered to be business formal in an office setting. Men should wear a suit, a nice shirt, dress shoes and slacks. Women should wear a conservative dress, pants suit or business suit and avoid clothes that are revealing or provocative.
- Arrive early: Judges consider tardiness as a sign of disrespect towards the court. Therefore, you should make every effort to not only attend your hearing on time, but you should try to be early if you can. First, your attorney may wish to go over a few things with you before your hearing begins. Second, you will need to allow time for parking if you have a car or to get public transportation.
- Address the judge properly: When addressing the judge always address him/her as “your honor”. “Sir” or “ma’am” is usually acceptable as well.
- Treat everyone you encounter with respect: Remember to be polite and to treat everyone at your hearing with respect. You do not want to prejudice the judge or other people present at your hearing by behaving in an inappropriate manner or by using inappropriate language.
- Wait quietly during the hearing until you are directed to speak: This helps keep the courtroom procedures flowing in an orderly and efficient manner. Additionally, you do not want to let your attention wander or engage in idle conservations with others while your case is being heard.
- Stand up when it is your turn to speak: Always stand and speak loudly and clearly when addressing the court. Also, you do want to use slang terms or profanity while making a statement or when answering questions.
This is just a small sample of how you should conduct yourself during your immigration hearing and during all appearances in court. The entire process may seem foreign to you but this will not work as an excuse when you are in court. As an immigration attorney in Van Nuys, I will help you prepare for court by going over these rules and others. As an immigration attorney in Oxnard, I can never guarantee the outcome of your case but I can guarantee that I will use all of my education and experience to advocate for you.