Nebraska Courtroom Etiquette
If your case is going to litigation, you’ll need to appear in court. Your attorney will take care of the most important matters, but a court appearance is still a serious occasion and should be treated as such.
If the judge finds that you are not respecting them, the court staff, or court proceedings in general, they may find you in contempt of court. This can come with a fine or jail time.
Preparing for Your Court Day
Your attorney will let you know what documents (if any) you should have ready for your court appearance. Keep them clean and free of wrinkles by bringing them in a file folder or manila envelope.
Wake up early that morning so you have plenty of time to get ready, eat, and arrive on time. By giving yourself longer than usual to get ready, you can be sure you look neat and put-together.
Set a back-up alarm if necessary–you absolutely do not want to be late. Plan your route to the courthouse the night before and give yourself a little extra time to get there, in case of traffic or other delays.
What to Wear
Dress codes differ from courtroom to courtroom, but no matter where you are, you are expected to dress with respect for the seriousness of the occasion. If possible, men should wear a suit and tie, while women should wear a modest dress or slacks.
Avoid wearing t-shirts, tank tops, baggy pants, flip-flops, hats, muscle shirts, or shirts that show your midriff. If your clothing has a pattern or design on it, make sure it is appropriate and non-offensive.
In one extreme case, a defendant arrived to court in a shirt advertising his business selling illegal drugs. He was, eventually, found guilty of drug dealing and jailed for 6 years.
Dressing professionally isn’t going to automatically win your case for you, but failing to do so could hurt you considerably.
What Not to Bring
Cell phones and other electronic devices
If you bring an electronic device and it disturbs the court proceedings with audible notifications, you may be held in contempt of court. Silence or turn off your phone, pager, and smart watch. Alternatively, you can leave them outside the courtroom altogether.
In general, the courtroom is not a great place for children. Court proceedings can be lengthy and boring. When kids get bored, they may become noisy or disruptive, so it’s a good idea to leave them home or with a sitter.
Food, drinks, and chewing gum
In most courtrooms, food and drink are prohibited. Eat before you arrive at court, so that you are alert and energetic.
Chewing gum may or may not be allowed in your courtroom, but either way, we recommend leaving it outside. It’s just another item that may make you appear unprofessional in the eyes of the judge.
How to Behave
Be respectful of everyone in the courtroom, regardless of what you are there for. Always refer to the judge as “Your Honor.” Refrain from interrupting others while they are speaking. Do not argue with the judge or anyone else.
All comments and questions should be directed toward the judge. Do not speak directly with the other party at any time.
Additionally, as you listen to court proceedings, actions like rolling your eyes, frowning, or shaking your head will reflect poorly on you.
Court cases often address heavy topics with a lot of emotion involved. It can be easy to get worked up.
When it is your turn to speak, stay as calm as possible. A few tears probably won’t hurt your case, but becoming inconsolable, angry, or annoyed may. Remember–the judge has seen and heard it all. Your emotions will not help your case; they will likely only get in the way.
Make sure your body language communicates that you are interested and attentive throughout all court proceedings. Don’t yawn loudly, fidget, or appear bored.
If you need to leave the courtroom for any reason, politely ask permission first.
How the Omaha Advocates Can Help
In most injury cases, The Advocates can get you a settlement before your case ever goes to court. If necessary though, our team of fierce litigators will take your case before a judge to get you the compensation you deserve.
Your Advocate will help you prepare for your day in court so that you have the best chance possible of financial recovery. We have been representing accident victims for more than 30 years, so we know how to set you up for success.
You deserve to have a competent, caring injury attorney on your side. You deserve an Advocate.