A judge, a lawyer, and a courtroom are three different things. While these people do work in the same court system, their roles and responsibilities are vastly different. In some ways, a judge is considered to be a more “traditional” member of the legal system while a lawyer is considered to be more of an “imaginative” member. When they come into a courtroom, however, it is important that they maintain a certain decorum. Here are some dos and don’ts for courtroom decorum:
A courtroom should be absolutely clear of all distractions. Even when a lawyer is present, there are many noises from the opposing lawyers and from the general room where the court is located. The decorum rules here are simple: silent interruptions are forbidden. Even when a lawyer is not present, a television or radio should be completely blocked from the court in order to preserve the decorum.
All written rules must be in place.
This includes all exhibits, testimony, and responses. Any rules about how a case must be handled must be followed. Failure to follow these rules can result in hearing loss and other consequences.
Lawyers must know their audience.
There is a big difference between a sports writer and a legal executive. While both must know their audience, different kinds of knowledge are needed by each kind of profession. A trial lawyer may want to know about the past activities of a particular witness, for example. A sportswriter may only need to know what was reported on local media.
Honesty is important.
This is at the core of any law practice. Both the plaintiff and defendant must know that their communications will be held against them. Both parties must know that there will be consequences for their conduct. There should be no undisclosed fees or information which would give the other party advantage over them. Both sides must know that in the United States, there is a right to a trial by judge and jury, and defendants have a right to a fair trial by a judge and jury.
No party can use loopholes to get out of paying what they owe. This includes legal fees. Any such avoidance of paying what one is legally entitled to can be grounds for a lawsuit. Any rules about what must-know must be followed, including anything related to legal fees.
It’s important to remember that the courtroom etiquette surrounding all types of lawyers and their clients is an extension of what we expect in the courtroom. Both should act with professionalism, honor, and integrity. It’s our job as citizens to be civil when engaging with others. In the court, we expect the lawyers to treat everyone with respect, not just their client.
Don’ts in the courtroom
Don’ts in the courtroom etiquette include: biting your nails, chewing on your lip, tapping your fingers or feet, and speaking using your voice above the lower register. Lawyers must know that this is not acceptable. If you want to be considered a professional, you need to keep your speech down to a minimum. Mentioning personal issues is fine; make sure you’re not talking business-style. It’s all about being a great listener and making sure the client feels comfortable and respected.
Don’ts in the courtroom can also be applied to non-lawyers as well. When giving advice to a friend or relative, it’s always best to steer clear of lawsuits, jail time, and hefty fines. If you are asked to provide legal advice to anyone, be prepared to explain why the law is relevant, and only use words such as “laws”, “legal advice” or “order”. The person receiving the advice shouldn’t feel as if you are trying to get them into trouble.
Another Dos and Don’t for Attorneys include sticking to the agreement you make with your clients, even if they choose not to obey it. You should never be the first to resort to intimidation or threats to get clients to follow your demands. Remember that attorneys earn their money by securing the right to represent their clients in a court of law. If they lose that battle, they don’t make any money. The best course of action is to play by the book and always act in a timely, respectful, and professional manner.