Legal Tips: Preparation And Presentation For Court

How to Present and Prepare Youself for a Court Hearing Procedures is a practical preparation guide whether it is for a simple traffic ticket, custody issue, or facing death row.

1) Retain legal counsel.

In criminal or civil court, the absolute number one preparation for any type of court hearing is to retain an attorney. Retaining an attorney that practices law is a process in which the attorney you talk with and want to hire agrees with you to be your legal representative, for an up front fee called a retainer. The lawyer, sometimes called counsel or attorney, gives you a dollar amount that you are to pay to "keep" their legal services with you. As a standard procedure, a contract is drawn up by the attorney, and signed by you and the attorney to let each of you know what the attorney is providing for you and what you are getting in terms of service, and how much it is going to cost per hour, per the retainer, or all together. This varies very widely from attorney to attorney, so do price shop around.

For an attorney to be retained for his court services to you, you have to also agree to continually pay after the retainer amount is used up for their time and their filing of legal papers which may include, but is not limited to a whole gamut of services like papers they file for you in a court of law on your behalf, calls they make for your case, answers they give to the court for the other parties questions they asked in court, or statements they made in court, witness interviews, research they have to do that takes their time and effort, and any other charges that you have to pay up front. You need to be reassuring to the attorney that you are going to pay for their time and their filing of legal papers, usually called petitions or motions to the court on your behalf whether you win your case or not because it is work for them whether you win, or not. If you know what you are paying for step by step, it makes it easier for you to want to pay also.

2) Know some basic court lingo before stepping into the court room.

There are several types of basic court entries. Entries in court are filed in a docket, which is the courtroom's agenda for that day. Usually, a paper directed to the court for either side is not is not heard if it is not scheduled on the docket, unless it is a supporting document to the entries already in place that both parties agree to be presented. The most basic court papers filed in a court of law are called are motions or petitions, along with answers and responses. Each of them compel a statement or a judgement of some kind from the court usually in the form of a court order, which is that particular court's final answer on the issues after hearing both sides. A court order is a legally binding document that tells both sides how the legal matter presented is going to be handled. Once the court order is in place, both sides have to follow it. Legal penalties, even jail, result from broken court orders.

A court motion or petition sounds complicated, but isn't. A court motion means the same thing as it sounds. You are motioning, although not physically, to the court to come and hear you whether you are giving them a statement or asking for some kind of legal matter to be resolved. An answer or response is what the other party gives you, or you give them depending on who made the initial motion, to be heard in the courtroom. Those are literally the technical legal terms for a question and answer period before a judge in a courtroom. There are many more, but those cover the very basics.

3) Know what area your legal counsel practices most in.

You would not go to a drive through a burger barn to eat steak and lobster by candle light, and you should not go to a real estate attorney to help you with your death row conviction. Each lawyer has specific practice areas that he or she feels both competent and comfortable in. However, that does not mean that lawyers cannot practice in any field they are schooled in. Before you retain an attorney, know what they can do. It is never inappropriate to ask for their track record, and any proof of that they can give to you. You would rather have a realistic look at who you are working with than have someone tell you a lot of hype about themselves that does not pan out in your legal long run.

You can call your own states bar association, where lawyers from the state and some information about them are listed, and ask if your lawyer, or the lawyer you are going to hire is a member in good standing. You can also ask to see if they have any complaints against them. You can also see what year that they started practicing law in.

4) Do not be your own counsel, if you can help it at all.

For any court, you need an attorney unless you are going to be your own attorney, which is termed, pro se. Most people, including attorneys themselves, get other attorneys to help them. In court, it helps not to be your own counsel simply because legally, you may not be the best representative for yourself. You can certainly try, and you do have that right, but it is not a recommended route. Judges get weary of trying to "hand-hold" you through the processes of court, not to mention the lingo, and rules of law. It is really best to hire an attorney for you for a court session where you are scheduled to appear, or to be heard, also called a hearing. Besides, with a legal representative representing you and your interests in a court of law, you may come out with a better result.

5) Always look professional, and business-like.

You must always remember that any courtroom only gets to know you for about a twenty minute window, in a normal court situation. First impressions are as important in court, as being well groomed, and well represented. You would not want the court to focus on a particularly outlandish outfit, or your old work clothes instead of what you are trying to say. Also, if you do not want to be embarrassed in court, bathe and come to court with respect to cleanliness.

Try to go to your local open court before your scheduled time with the court, and see what others that work there are wearing, and try to mimic their outfit, if financially possible. Even if you have to buy a second hand outfit for court, make sure it is clean, and nice fitting, meaning not too loose, and not too tight.

Browns, blues, and blacks are the most widely accepted court colors. You may have accent pieces, but if possible, keep them minimally. You would not benefit from gaudy or flashy clothes in court because it would detract all parties attention on your clothing or wear. Women should not wear revealing clothing, and men should not wear clothes that do not fit their body shape. Neither women nor men need to wear caps or hats out of respect for the court.

Also, try to match your entire outfit if you can. If you do not have newer clothes, don't fret about it. Clean clothing that fits is a good and healthy statement about a person's appearance. Also, if you do not have clean shoes, or newer shoes, buy some shoe polish. Usually it is anywhere from $1.00 to $15.00 at local stores. Sometimes you can even find it at the local mini-marts. Men's dress shoes and women's dress shoes should be chosen over tennis shoes or boots. Casual yet nice looking shoes are great, and can be found anywhere you regularly shop for shoes most of the time. If you have a great budget, shop on-line, or at the bigger department stores that help you match your shoe color to your outfit. If you do not have much money, shop for your shoes at your local discount shoe store, second hand or thrift store, or ask your local shelters or churches for free clothing or shoes that you need for court.

In addition, it is always better to be yourself in court, just the polished up version. If you do not wear make up, don't. If you do not shave, do not, but keep facial hair clean and well groomed. Ladies should always wear pantyhose when wearing skirts to court, and men should always wear socks when wearing pants to court. Bottom line is to look your best for your court action. When you look good, you feel good, and that should promote a positive attitude towards court.

6) Respect the court.

No matter if you got brought in by a police car, pulled in by your ex, or are going to dispute a claim or a charge, give the court its due respect. The court listens to both persons or parties legal points of law according to the issue that brought you before court, and makes a decision based on those points of law. Do not confuse law with emotion. Do not make the mistake of not being prepared for your own case. If you do not prepare for your own case, no one else will.

You can hire an attorney to present your case, but you should never let an attorney tell you what you have to do. The attorney works for you, and should be your advocate for you and your side in court. You may disagree with your attorney, but never in a court of law. If you disagree with what your attorney is doing for you in court, ask the judge to give you five minutes outside the courtroom so you can speak with your attorney, and do just that. Do not leave the court room while your hearing or case is being heard for any reason. The judge may take you walking out of the courtroom personally, and order you to return, put you in jail for contempt, which is basically like a slap on the wrist for upsetting the flow of the court process, or give the judgement, order or decision to the other opposing side just for your negative and unreasonable actions.

Be careful in court. Mind your manners, and mind yourself legally. Mind what you look like, and make sure both you and your legal representative show up on time. Do not make a court hearing all of your life, because unless you are on death row, it is not going to be. Even if you are in a serious life altering court case, take some time to think of positive things around you. In court, also be informed of what the law is in your particular case, and ask to see that copy, and read it if you can read. If you cannot read, have someone read it for you. Always be informed. In a court process from beginning to end, knowledge is power.

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