Whether you are a party, a witness or support for a friend or family member who is, going to court can be intimidating experience. But today let's talk about some common things to expect if you do.
What to expect when you get there
The first thing you will encounter at the courthouse is security at the front door. All visitors will be screened by law enforcement officers before they are admitted. Think airport security. The more you are prepared, the faster and easier the process will be. There are some basic things to remember.
What to wear and what not to wear:
Appropriate attire is always required for court. Shorts, tank tops or immodest dress are not allowed. You should avoid t-shirts or other items of clothing which have a printed message on them. Jeans are acceptable, but they should be clean and neat. Work clothes are acceptable, but should be clean and otherwise appropriate. Belts, metal jewelry or other metal items will have to be removed for screening.
What to bring and what not to bring
Cellphones are not allowed in the courtroom. Cigarettes, lighter and matches, pocket knives, pepper spray and potential weapons are not allowed. You will save time and aggravation if you leave these items in your vehicle in the first place.
All purses, backpacks, briefcases and bags will have to be screened. Unless it is absolutely necessary, it is also easier to leave these items your vehicle.
Children under 12 are generally not allowed in the courtroom. If a child is potentially a witness, they should wait outside the courtroom until called by the bailiff.
At the present time, you will also have to go through a Covid screening to be admitted. This will include a temperature check and a mask is required.
The court is also using an computerized check-in system. When you enter, you will report to the security officers at the front door, who will make sure you are on the docket and eligible for admission. They officers will take your cell number and ask you to wait in your vehicle until notified. When it is time for your case, the courtroom deputy will send you a text message to report to the courtroom.
Under the Covid protocol, only parties, witnesses and attorneys are allowed to enter the courtroom. At least for now, family members, friends or other supporters should refrain from coming to court with you.
Remember that certain rules of conduct are mandatory in the courtroom. You should be seated where directed. Answer when your name is called. Refrain from talking to the courtroom staff while they are working and do not approach them unless directed to do so. You should refrain from talking and gesturing. Loud talking or outbursts are never tolerated. Obey the judge at all times and interact with him or her respectfully.