Regardless of what is or is not permitted on the television courtrooms we watch from afar, there are certain standards of behavior that you must adhere to during the course of your actual trial. These are signs of respect, rules of decorum, and can also demonstrate to the jury that you are a responsible, trustworthy person.
Here are the main things to remember when you are in the courtroom for your personal injury or accident trial.
- ● Never interrupt the judge. And never speak over him or her, either. Answer all of the judge’s questions completely. He or she is the ultimate authority in that courtroom, and should be given the respect due to the position.
- ● Address members of the courtroom respectfully. Always call the judge “Your Honor” and the bailiff “Mr./Ms. Bailiff”. When in doubt, ask your attorney and choose the more respectful title or surname.
- ● Speak clearly. As you’re testifying, make sure that your back is never turned to the judge or jury, so they can hear you. Enunciate and talk loudly–though not too loudly–so that everyone can be sure to hear what you are saying.
- ● Presenting a diagram. You may be required to draw a diagram of the incident in question. This may be the scene of an accident, with the basic location of each person involved, or the layout of an aisle where you slipped and fell. Ideally, you would draw this before the court date and bring it with you. Check it for accuracy and make sure your attorney reviews it before you present it in court.
- ● Explaining a diagram. Stand next to the presentation, not in front of it, making sure that the judge, jury, and attorneys can see it clearly. Be explicit about which parts you’re referring to, using labels or pointing.
- ● Watch your body language. Try never to cross your arms in the courtroom, as this is considered negative body language that can make you appear as if you’re closed off, hiding something, or defensive. It’s best to keep your hands in your lap, and avoid using them to gesture while on the witness stand.
- ● Be alert and aware. In the courtroom, someone is watching you all the time. If it’s not the judge or an attorney, it’s a member of the jury. Consider your body language and your facial expressions, keeping them neutral and as relaxed as possible.
Try to maintain a professional demeanor at all times, both in and around the courtroom. The way you behave can strongly affect how someone–the judge or a member of the jury–perceives you, and what they subconsciously decide about you, even apart from the evidence. You can be your own advocate by controlling your behavior and remaining neutral and professional.
Do you have representation you trust? Contact Simon Law Group for a personal consultation with an experienced attorney.]]>