Court Rules and Etiquette
All interaction in court is of a serious nature and affects the lives of many people. Everyone in court is expected to behave appropriately and in accordance with the rules and etiquette of the court. Failure to respond and follow the instructions given by the judge or court officials may result in a contempt of court notice which is punishable by a fine or even imprisonment.
Before appearing in court, it is important to understand something of the etiquette and rules required in court. Tips for good courtroom etiquette include:
- Do speak softly and maintain a professional demeanour in the hallways and stairwells of the Courthouse.
- Do not bring unnecessary items that could be used as a potential weapon to court as they will be liable to confiscation.
- Do not bring heavy backpacks or totes into the courthouse as this delays the security process.
- Do dress appropriately; this is a professional setting and you are encouraged to dress accordingly.
- Arrive in good time for your case and not under the influence of any drugs.
- Smoking, eating and drinking are not allowed in courtrooms. Do not chew gum.
- Remain quiet until your case is called.
- Do be respectful to the judge; address him or her as "your honour" or "judge." Be polite and courteous to other court users and court officials.
- You are expected to stand up when the judge comes into or leaves court. You will know this is happening when the macer announces 'court'.
- You should not read aloud in the courtroom unless asked to by the judge.
- Do not repeat to others what you have heard in the courtroom while still in the courthouse; there may be jurors, attorneys, or parties to the case that may hear information from you that they are not allowed to hear.
- Taking audio or video recordings or photographs is not allowed in courtrooms.
- Pets/animals are not allowed in courtrooms.
- And please don't forget to switch your mobile phone/pager off.
- Do bring pens or pencils and paper to take notes; there's a lot to learn from a visit to the courthouse.