Courtroom Etiquette: What to Wear & How to Act

Courtroom Etiquette

There are a lot of things you should think about before walking into the courtroom. Etiquette is of the utmost importance; you will make a good impression, which ends up going a long way. Research shows that human beings form impressions of others in 1/10 of a second.

There are various stated (and unstated) rules of conduct for attendees, litigants, attorneys, and so on. Take a look at these important aspects of good courtroom etiquette.

What to Wear in Court

When it comes to planning what to wear the night before, there are some specific things you need to keep in mind. What constitutes ‘proper dress’ seems to vary from person to person, and most states even have gender-specific guidelines for proper courtroom attire. Oregon Judicial Department outlines the two following clothing rules:

  1. The court must be dressed so as not to detract from the dignity of the court. Members not dressed in accordance with this rule may be removed from the courtroom.
  2. When appearing in court, all attorneys and court officials must wear appropriate attire.

This may still seem a tad vague. To further explain, there are various things you should not wear, including caps, hats, flipflops, sandals, sunglasses, and revealing clothing (tank tops, shorts, crop tops, perfume, cologne, and ripped, torn, or baggy jeans). Keep your look professional, like you are at a job interview. A professional look will pay dividends.

Clothing is an important aspect to think about before going into court, but so is how you present yourself within court. Here are a couple tips on how you should act in court.

How to Act in Court

Be Punctual (Be Early)

You do not want to be rushed as you go through the process of checking in, going through security, and finding the right courtroom. Give yourself plenty of time to get settled and calm before you head into the courtroom. Showing up early also provides a good first impression.

Respect the Judge

There is a lot that goes into being respectful of the judge. You should direct all comments and arguments to the judge, and you should never interrupt him or her. Your body language should be positive and polite. If you are answering questions, make sure to answer the judge with a yes/no ma’am or sir.

Stay Attentive

You need to stay present throughout the trial. If you are on the stand, you need to listen attentively at all times—if you do not understand a question, just ask. Do not try to answer the question if you do not understand. This could give the judge the feeling that you are not paying attention. If you are in the gallery, stay focused on what is happening—do not be on your phone, and make sure to keep your head up and eyes on the courtroom.

Be Cognizant of Courtroom Rules

Each courtroom will have different rules and regulations. Take note of these before you walk into the room. Dispose of any gum, food, or drink, and turn off your cellphone. Most of the time, courtrooms do not want children present unless they are a part of the case. Try to find a babysitter to watch your children; this way you will have one less thing to stress you out during the trial.

Whether you are walking into court with your Clackamas County DUII lawyer or sitting in the jury, there is a specific way you need to dress and act. Make a good impression on the judge and help soothe your stress of the judicial process.