How to Deal and Talk to Judges (PDF)
It can be intimidating to talk to a judge, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. Fortunately, an attorney can help you prepare for the courtroom by helping you present yourself professionally and respectfully.
You should contact an injury lawyer today if you have been injured in an accident and wish to seek legal restitution from the responsible party(s) who can help you answer your questions, guide you through the legal process, and fight for your rights every step of the way. The following information is also a good way to help you prepare for your court appearance. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
When the judge enters, stand up
When the judge enters the room, you should stand up unless you are physically unable to do so, such as if you are injured. Also, you should not sit until the judge says it is okay to do so.
In the event that the judge stands to leave the courtroom, you should also stand. If you are unsure whether you should stand or sit, watch others in the room for guidance.
Address the judge appropriately
In court, the first rule of speaking to a judge is to address them as “Your Honor.” This title does not apply to presiding officials who do not serve as judges. If you are unsure how to address a court official, use the same language as lawyers and other people in the courtroom. If necessary, ask your attorney.
Answer yes/no questions with “No, your Honor” or “Yes, your Honor.” This is the best way to convey respect to the judge. Do not just nod or shake your head.
Speak politely, clearly, and directly
It is important to watch your language in court and avoid swearing or using slang or sarcasm. Do not disparage the judge or anyone else in the courtroom. Do not use words, phrases, or nonverbal cues that could be perceived as threatening.
If you speak or behave disrespectfully, a judge can hold you in contempt, possibly leading to fines or jail time. Even if they don’t, inappropriate language can taint your testimony.
Keep it on topic
It may be tempting to bring up many details, perhaps to make the other side look unfavorable or yourself look more sympathetic, but this is rarely helpful. Instead, make sure you express yourself clearly and concisely. Failure to stay focused and on-topic distracts the judge and everyone else in the courtroom. Whenever possible, you should be able to answer questions simply with “yes” or “no.”
Be Short in Explanations
You should keep your statements short and to the point when telling your story or answering a question. If the presiding judge or attorney requires more details, they will ask you to explain further. An opening statement, in which you introduce yourself, explain your reasons for being in court, and explain your goals, may also be helpful.
Make eye contact
Eye contact is a non-verbal way of expressing yourself positively. People who avoid eye contact, especially in court, are often viewed as hiding something. Moreover, always look the judge in the eye when you are speaking to them or they are speaking to you. Don’t look down at paperwork or the floor when speaking to the judge. This makes you appear uncertain of yourself, and it can also be considered disrespectful.
If you need clarification, ask
Whenever a judge or other official asks you a question you don’t understand, politely ask them to clarify what they mean so that you can answer them appropriately.
Thank the judge for his decision
After you finish speaking, thank the judge directly for considering your testimony.
Judges should not be interrupted
Never interrupt a judge, even if you disagree with what they are saying. Wait patiently until they finish talking. Regardless of the reason, do not make a scene
When the judge hands down their decision, you should respect their choice and do not make a scene. If you disagree with the outcome, you can consult with your attorney about what next steps should be taken. This will not help you and may only make matters worse (for example, you may be found in contempt of court). Your frustration is not the time or place for you to vent.