Most of us haven’t had the distinct pleasure of being in a courtroom, either defending ourselves or trying to establish justice after someone has wronged us in some way. Because of this, our experience often falls to those few moments when we were swept away watching Judge Judy or some other TV reality court show. The people seem angry and unwilling to compromise, and sometimes the judge can come off entirely unsympathetic and this can be very frightening if you are facing a court date for any reason. These five tips can help you calm down and get into the right frame of mind for facing court so that you don’t wind up passed out on the floor:
Research your legal situation
If you know the ins and outs of your legal position, you will be infinitely better prepared for your appearance in court. If you simply show up, answer some questions and cross your fingers, it is far less likely that you will leave with the outcome you desire or that you deserve. Do some groundwork: pick up any pamphlets that you find in the legal buildings and consult your library for any literature that may be useful on the day. You should be figuring out the real legal obligations of you or the other parties involved in the case so that you understand what you may or may not have done wrong, and vice versa.
Organize your research
When you have gathered all the relevant information for your case, you should start to analyze it according to the points you feel need to be made to the judge. For any information you have on the case, such as your whereabouts on a particular day or how well you and a defendant know each other, you should figure out on what grounds the judge will be interested in knowing such information to avoid him or her dismissing it. Know what the judge wants to know and organize your facts accordingly.
Decide whether or not to include witnesses in your case
Whether you are working with legal representation or not, you will need to think about bringing witnesses in to substantiate your claims or defense. You need to decide whether this is actually necessary or if it is a waste of the court’s time. Don’t use witnesses unless they are crucial to the case.
Gather all documentation needed for your court appearance
The worst thing you can do is be unprepared when you come into the courtroom, so figure out what it is you need to present to the judge to back up your story and your claim and be SURE to bring it with you!
Think about what you are going to say in court
The judge will ask you if you have anything relevant to say before the hearing begins, and you may also be making your closing statement yourself so it is essential that you put some thought into what you will say. Use your research and be clear, concise and to the point when you address the court.