Going to Court
Prepare your case
If you want to file a case, think about:
- Getting to know the law that applies to your case- meaning, what you need to prove or disprove during the trial/hearing.
- Getting to know your position on the legal facts and issues. It’s wise to understand the other party’s take on those same issues.
- Obtaining all the documents and information you will need to prove or defend your case. You will need to disclose all of your documents, evidence and witnesses to the other side as required by the rules applicable to your case.
- Getting to know the testimony of your witnesses, if you have any. Witnesses are typically only allowed during a trial, and do not testify during hearings.
Before your trial or hearing
As your court date approaches, think about:
- Re-reading the documents you or the other side has filed in the case. Understand these and what they mean.
- Practicing what you want to say in court out loud.
- Organizing your documents so that you know where to find things.
- Researching the issues you still aren’t sure about.
- Making sure you have adequate time off so you can attend court.
- Arranging an interpreter, if you need help understanding English.
On the day of your hearing/trial
On the day you’re set to appear in court, think about:
- Showing up on time- leave extra time to find parking and get through security.
- Dressing appropriately. This means avoiding attire with vulgar language or imagery and taking off your hat and sunglasses.
- Bringing extra copies of your documents to give to the judge and the other parties involved.
- Bringing your evidence and witnesses (if you are going to trial).
- Silencing and putting away your phone when you enter the courtroom.
- Checking in with the bailiff so they know you are present.
- Standing up when the judge enters and leaves the courtroom.
- Referring to the judge as “Your Honor” and speaking with them in a respectful manner.
- Avoiding the temptation to raise your voice, interrupt someone else or speak out of turn.
- Understanding what the judge ordered. You may be emotional and find it hard to process everything going on. Before you leave, make sure you understand the outcome of the hearing/trial and if there is anything you need to do next.