Tens of thousands of cases are filed and decided by Indiana’s trial court judges each year. Every judge and attorney knows the importance of telling the story of your position to give you your best day in court. However, for the legal system to work as it should, litigants themselves play a key role at trial.
These may seem obvious, but it is amazing how the stress of a trial or nervous excitement may cause you not to be prepared for court. Here are some simple tips to be prepared for your day in court. Individually, they may not make a difference, but collectively, every good attorney knows they may make a difference—winning versus losing:
- Get a good night’s sleep the day before.
- Think through your answers so you recall the events and details specific to your case.
- Have a specific place and time to meet your attorney well before court starts, and a plan for what happens if there is a problem.
- Dress for success and wear clothing worthy of your day in court.
- Know what you can and cannot take into the courthouse itself (i.e., can you take a phone into the court building?).
- Do not talk about your case in the public areas of the court; you never know who is listening.
- Make arrangements in advance in the event the hearing or trial runs late (judges and attorneys cannot necessarily keep the facts of a case to a specific time frame and being unprepared for this with baby sitters or a ride can cause unnecessary stress).
- Be self aware of the “fishbowl” environment going on in a trial or hearing—a judge is supposed to judge the case by weighing the case in real time and sighs, fidgeting, or similar non-verbal behaviors can “say” a lot.
- Don’t be afraid to show emotion, but do not let that interfere with your presentation of evidence (crying for instance is a normal human emotion, but if this causes you to withdraw from telling the case, try to temper your case).
These may seem obvious. However, these basic principles impact cases each day, and every day in Indiana’s courtrooms and those across the United States. Remember that opposing counsel, the opposing party, the judge and courtroom are places worthy of respect. In all ways, put your best foot forward. The rest will follow to make your best case.
We hope you find this material useful to educate you about any such issue you face. This blog post is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. and is for general educational purposes only. It is not legal advice, or solicitation for legal services. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle civil and criminal appeals from all Indiana state trial courts, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, or United States Supreme Court.