Is the way I dress in court important?
Yes! A criminal defendant should ask his/her attorney how to dress for court appearances. Generally, a defendant should dress as if (s)he is going to a job interview for a professional job. This means suits for men, suits or dresses for women. Most courts have dress codes: no hats (except for religious purposes), shorts, tank tops, or bare feet. it is usually better to overdress than to underdress. Remember that judges and jurors are human, so a properly dressed defendant may get the benefit of the doubt over someone who comes to court dressed for the beach or the gym. It is often equally important that family and friends of the defendant be appropriately dressed, as well.
How nice should I be to courtroom personnel?
Very Very Nice.. Defendants should go out of their way to be courteous to everyone, especially official court personnel, prosecutors, judges, clerks and his/her own attorney. Simple things such as saying 'please' and 'thank you' and showing up on time may make a difference in your case.
How should I address the judge?
Although the defendant's attorney will do most of the talking in court, there are certain times when the defendant must speak directly to the judge - for example when entering a plea or during sentencing. The most important thing to remember is to be polite and, if appropriate, to show genuine remorse. In addition, remember to: (i) Stand when addressing the judge; (ii) Call the judge 'Your Honor' not 'Judge;' (iii) Speak slowly and clearly, directly into the microphone (if one is provided) so the judge, attorneys and court reporter can hear easily; (iv) Speak only when asked to and, if possible, only afternyour attorney has had the opportunity to counsel you on what to say.
If you are arrested or charged with a crime, contact:
Christine McGuire, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara County Defense Attorney