Your job as a litigant, therefore, is to provide the judge with reliable, factual information upon which the judge can base a decision which is fair and reasonable. In order for the judge to make appropriate decisions, there are rules which apply to everyone in the courtroom:
- Stand when addressing the judge.
- Always look the judge in the eye when speaking to the judge.
- Don’t engage in conversation or argument with others in the courtroom.
- The court reporter (or recording system) can only accurately record the spoken statements of one person at a time. If the judge is speaking, only the judge’s statements are being recorded.
- Don’t interrupt the judge (or anyone else).
- Don’t “talk over” another person.
- Demonstrate civility and respect for others in the courtroom.
- Speak when spoken to and keep your statements pertinent to the subject matter of the hearing.
- Dress appropriately. (See what should I wear?)
- Avoid attempting to influence the judge with facial expressions of disgust, surprise or shock. Don’t scoff, snort, laugh or roll your eyes regardless of what you think of someone else’s statement.
Even outside the courtroom, there are rules you should be aware of. You should not attempt to contact the judge by telephoning their office or asking someone to speak to them. The same rule applies to the judge’s staff – their secretary, assistant, law clerk or bailiff. The judge is, after all, the ultimate decision maker in your case. It does not pay to irritate the judge by flouting the rules. Judges are persuaded by logic and compelling argument, not by appeals to prejudice or ridiculously extreme suggestions. If the judge makes a ruling, do not argue, even if you feel sure the judge is wrong. If the ruling is wrong, you may have an opportunity to appeal the ruling to a higher court.