Court Etiquette

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It is important for defendants and plaintiffs to become acquainted with court etiquette before their appearance in court. First impressions are as important for the courtroom as they are for any other situation. While justice may be blind, there are still standards to abide by when in the courtroom. These standards include appearance, behaviour, general rules and knowledge of prohibited items.


Court etiquette requires everyone in the courtroom to wear appropriate attire. Business attire is suggested; most courtrooms prohibit shorts, tank tops, tube tops, jeans, T-shirts, flip flops or any other casual attire. Clothing should always be clean and pressed and should fit the attendee appropriately. Typically, courtrooms do not allow the use of hats in any fashion. After being appropriately dressed, another factor in appearance etiquette is an attendee's appearance time. Courtrooms require punctuality and all courtroom attendees should arrive before the specified time, usually 10 to 15 minutes before their scheduled time, unless otherwise specified.


Along with the requirements of punctuality come the requirements for orderliness. Certain behaviours are frowned upon and even prohibited in the courtroom. These behaviours include silence when court is in session and refraining from the use of electronic equipment or any item that may be distracting to other attendees. Addressing the courtroom properly and using traditional manners such as, "Your Honor" for the judge and "Mr." or "Ms." for other members of the courtroom is encouraged. One must always be sure to speak clearly and loudly so the electronic audio equipment can pick up your voice. Interrupting others while they are speaking is prohibited and should be avoided.

Rules of the Courtroom

While etiquette is a suggestion, courtroom rules are the law and legally enforceable to the extent of arrest for contempt of court. Typical courtroom rules include respectfulness of the judge, jury, lawyers and other parties. Silence is required during court sessions. Extremely loud disturbances will likely result in an immediate arrest. Children are the responsibility of the parents and are required to abide by the same rules of the courtroom.

Prohibited Items

Courtrooms are government buildings and have laws regarding prohibited items and behaviours in the building. These prohibited items include guns, knives and weapons of any kind. Other prohibited items include food, drink, and smoking. Smoking is occasionally allowed in designated areas only. Inappropriate attire is prohibited, as are many electronic devices.

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