A judge is an individual who deserves your utmost respect. Not only should you respect them as an individual, but you should respect them because they are appointed to uphold the law so showing your respect for a judge, you are also showing respect for the law itself. When you go to court, it is understandably very intimidating to interact with a judge. After all, the judge is the one who is responsible for upholding the law and making the decisions in regard to your case. However, we would like to ease your mind and allow you to let go some of your stress by explaining how you should act when interacting with a judge.
All Rise for the Honorable Judge
When you are in court you will hear the bailiff say, “All Rise for the Honorable Judge” and everyone should stand. By rising when the judge enters the courtroom shows that you respect the judge and understand basic court procedure. The rising to the judge also shows the court is being brought to order too. If you are unsure if you should be standing or seated the best thing you can do is follow what the majority of people are doing in the courtroom.
When you are speaking to a judge you should address them as “your honor”
It is the proper way to address a judge in court. By addressing them properly, you are showing the judge that you understand their importance and have respect for their authority. “Your honor” only applies to judges so you won’t address a clerk or other court official as “your honor”.
Be an Active Listener
Being an active listener requires you to fully concentrate on what you are being told, understand what you are told, respond appropriately, and remember what was said. You can show respect to a judge by being an active listener and giving them your full attention. If you aren’t actively listening to what the judge is saying it is likely that you will misunderstand something the judge said or will have to ask the judge to repeat himself/herself. It is disrespectful for you not to give your full attention to the judge.
Let the Judge Speak and Under NO Circumstances Interrupt the Judge
It is never appropriate to interrupt a judge. You want to ensure that the judge has finished speaking before you answer any questions or begin saying what you want to communicate to the judge. Be patient and wait!
Use Appropriate Language and Body Language
When you are speaking to a judge remember to use appropriate language. Don’t use any slang terms and do not use profanity or cuss word in front of a judge. Do not say anything that even be the slightest offensive. You want to use appropriate and respectful language throughout your entire interaction with the judge. Keep your dialect direct and speak as clearly as you can. You want to keep your communications to the point and relevant to what the judge is asking you. You do not need to provide a long explanation with every single tiny detail. When in doubt, keep it short and direct. You don’t want to go on a long tangent about something that the judge is not interested in or finds irrelevant. If the judge wants additional information, he/she will ask you for it.
Also, it is very important to speak clearly and loud enough for the judge can hear you. You don’t want to mumble, talk too quickly, or talk too softly which could result in the judge not being able to hear or understand you. It is a waste of everyone’s time if you end up having to constantly repeat yourself.
It may be difficult to be aware of your body language in a high-stress situation, but if you can it is something that is worth paying attention to. First of all, remember to make eye contact with the judge when he/she is speaking to you. Avoiding eye contact is disrespectful and it also can imply that you are not being truthful or are overly nervous. Similarly, fidgeting can have a negative impression. Fidgeting is distracting and should be kept to a minimum when possible.
No matter what is said or what the outcome is, you always want to be professional. Even if the judge says something that you disagree with or even if it offends you, it is important to remain calm and collected. You should show the judge that you respect his/her opinion and the judge’s decision. It is not appropriate to discuss or show any frustration, intense emotions, or disappointment in court. Wait until after you leave the courtroom to discuss any issues you have with your attorney.