If you are representing yourself, you are still bound by the same obligations as someone who has a lawyer.
This guide will help you to understand what you should do when you come to court.
By following some simple guidelines and the rules of court, you will be well prepared to manage your case and you should feel more comfortable with the Court surroundings.
GETTING YOUR DOCUMENTS READY
Before coming to court for your hearing, make sure you have all your documents together.
It is best to have your documents labeled and organized in date order so you can find them quickly.
Bring paper, a pen, so you can take notes as to what the judicial officer orders.
The courtroom is a formal place. You should dress appropriately. No shorts, tank tops, hats or sunglasses (unless prescription) are permitted.
If you have any concerns when you are in the court building, please speak with court staff or personnel from the Sheriff's Department, located on the first floor.
When you arrive at the courtroom where your case is being heard, give your name to the courtroom clerk or bailiff. Tell them that you are appearing in court and tell them which case you are there for.
A number of cases may be scheduled on the same day and time as your hearing. Once you have checked in as indicated above, remain in the courtroom until your case is called. Some of the courtrooms are very small with limited seating, so if you come to court with a relative or friend, that person(s) may be asked to wait outside of the courtroom. While in the courtroom pagers and cell phones should be placed on “vibrate” or “silent” mode. Should you need to accept or make a phone call, step out of the courtroom and into the public area while talking. Do not bring food or drinks into the courtroom.
After everyone that is scheduled for a court hearing checks-in with the courtroom clerk, the judicial officer will come out to the courtroom, and call each case on calendar. When your case is called, stand and tell the court who you are; the judicial officer may ask you some questions.
RESPONDING TO THE JUDICIAL OFFICER
Wait until you are addressed to start speaking. Do not talk over the other person or the judicial officer. If there is a court reporter present they can only write for one person at a time.
ADDRESSING THE JUDICIAL OFFICER
You should always address the judicial officer as "Your Honor"
COURT ORDERS ABOUT YOUR CASE
After your case is heard, the judicial officer may make orders about your case. You should write down these orders. Ask for the orders to be repeated if you do not understand. If there is an attorney on the other side, the Court may direct that attorney to prepare a “formal” order. If there is not an attorney, the Court may direct you to prepare the order.