Friday, October 21, 2011

Demeanor and Behavior in Court

Today, my article will focus upon proper demeanor and behavior at court appearances if you have court in Bloomington Illinois.  I will first discuss the basic "To Do List"!



The "To Do's"



It is imperative to be on time!  If the hearing is scheduled to take place at 9:00 a.m. you should be present to meet with your attorney at least fifteen minutes early at the Law and Justice Center. If you don't know where you will be going, it might be a good idea to make a "trial run" beforehand.  Just don't be late…it is not excusable by the Court for a party to be "tardy" for a hearing before the Court.


If you have babies, toddlers, or young children, please find a babysitter or day care center to provide for their care.  Our Courts in Bloomington can be crowded and the waiting areas and Courtrooms are not comfortable or conducive places for having young children. Further, you may be asked to make some important decisions at the time of your hearing.  Having a baby or toddler who may be "fussy" or "irritable" may distract you with the decision-making process.


If you are already involved with another "significant other", do not bring him or her to Court with you!  Bringing a "significant other" to the final Court hearing usually does nothing but inflame an already fragile situation.  If you feel you must have "emotional support", bring a parent or a sibling or a good friend.


Eat breakfast and be certain you have ingested adequate liquids so that you are not dehydrated. Consider bringing a bottle of water along with you.  The hearing may bring out emotions. If you think you are going to be upset and queasy, bring some Rolaids, mints, and/or crackers with you.


If you anticipate being "teary", bring a box or handful of Kleenex with you.  The Court does have them available; but, if you know you are going to be in need of tissues, plan ahead and bring them with you. That way, they shall be immediately available.




Behavior Tips While in the Courtroom



Be certain that your cell phone is turned off.  The Court may fine a person whose cell phone rings during a Court hearing.


When the Judge enters the Courtroom, you should always stand up from your seat to show respect and deference to the Court.


You should be silent unless asked a specific question by the Court.


If you need to communicate with your attorney, have a pad of paper and a pen and write a note to your lawyer.  The Judge may admonish you even if you whisper to your attorney.


If you need to use the restroom or if you need to have a "break" for emotional or other reasons, your counsel can ask for a brief recess from the Court.


If you are upset or distraught by a ruling from the bench, you should remain silent and later discuss your reactions with your attorney.  Never argue or allow non-verbal body language to show displeasure.




The bottom line is that everyone must afford the Judge or Magistrate the utmost deference and respect.

Jon D. McLaughlin
Bloomington Illinois Divorce Attorney
(309) 319-6206

How To Dress For Court – Do’s And Don’ts

The date for your un-contested divorce hearing in McLean County has been set.  What is the appropriate attire for Court in Bloomington?  First, it is most important to recognize that the hearing set forth in the first sentence indicates that the case has been “settled” or “resolved”. Basically, this means that neither party will be testifying against one another and that neither party has a large stake or investment in the Court’s impression of either party.

FOR MEN: A nice pair of slacks and a dress shirt or golf shirt would be appropriate. A sports coat or suit may be worn but certainly is not required.  Shoes and socks should be worn as “flip flops” are prohibited.  Likewise, it may be ninety degrees (90°) in August and hot/humid, but shorts are not permitted to be worn in the Courtroom. Other prohibited articles of clothing include tank tops, tee shirts, shirts reflecting foul or vulgar language or politically incorrect language, and hats.

FOR WOMEN: A dress, skirt and top, or slacks and a nice top would be appropriate. As in the paragraph above, it would not be appropriate to appear in Court in shorts, a halter top, or a skimpy tank top, or flip flops.

The proper and/or appropriate attire for either party changes dramatically if the parties are facing a “contested” divorce and/or custody hearing, wherein each would be on the witness stand for protracted periods of time and, wherein, their appearances would certainly be scrutinized by the Court.

FOR MEN: Same as above; however, a sports coat or suit could be worn but would not be considered mandatory.  If the Husband/Father is seeking custody of his child or children, he would want to be dressed conservatively…nothing too flashy, nothing too out-of-the ordinary. For example, if a young Husband is seeking custody of his child/children, he could receive “negative” points if he appeared in Court in non-traditional attire such as Black Gothic Style clothing or wildly colored hair.  Remember, that most Judges are older conservative individuals.  If the Husband/Father has an abundance of tattoos, I would definitely suggest that he consider wearing a long-sleeved shirt to “cover” the tattoos!  Also, it would be advisable for the client to remove evidence of body piercings….ears, lips, nose, eyebrows, etc.

FOR WOMEN: The main point to remember…… do not want to appear in Court as Sharon Stone appeared in “Basic Instinct”!  This is not the time to appear to be “hot” or “sexy” especially if you are seeking custody of your child or children.  You want to appear stable, sensible, warm and loving. Soft colors are better than bright and vibrant colors.  Longer skirt lengths are better than short skirt lengths! You do not want to wear anything that would be considered “too short, too skimpy, too wild, too bold, or too sexy”.

I advise my clients to dress appropriately for Court. Dress as you would for church or an important job interview.  If you are in the armed services, wearing your military attire is a very safe choice. If you look sloppy or inappropriate, the Judge or Magistrate may believe that you are showing or displaying a lack of respect for the Court.  You have but one opportunity to create that “first impression”! So, consider these “do’s and don’ts” in advance of your Court date and make a good impression with the Judge.