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Going to Court for the First Time?

Posted by Ryan Singleton | Nov 11, 2022

If you are nervous about having to go to court, that's okay.  It's completely natural.  Going to court is a harrowing experience for anyone, even lawyers.  Early in my career, my heart would beat so fast, and my voice would spike a few octaves whenever I spoke to a judge.  After going to court day-in, day-out over a period of years, I finally became comfortable with the process and stopped squeaking like Peter Brady at the podium. 

The reasons why we must go to court can be very serious and it's okay to take them seriously.  But we don't need to panic.  Take a few deep breaths and relax, as I walk you through the process. 

The first thing to consider is what to wear.  Dressing up in a suit or tie is not required unless you are a lawyer.  Still, you want to dress like you are going to church or a formal occasion, as opposed to the beach.  Avoid wearing shorts, tank tops, flip flops, hats or sunglasses.  

Plan out your directions to the courthouse in advance and give yourself extra time to find parking and walk to the entrance.  Also, like going to the airport, allow extra time to go through a security checkpoint with metal detectors. Do not bring any weapons, food, liquids, or lighters with you.  Be sure to know which courtroom you are going to, and feel free to ask the security staff for directions to it.  Knowing where you are going and getting there early can lower your stress levels significantly. 

If you arrived at your courtroom before any hearings have started, you'll find that some people may be talking and that is normal.  You can feel free to chat as well, but it is not a good idea to say much about your case.  You never know who else is listening.  When the judge enters, the bailiff will usually ask everyone to stand and then the judge will tell everyone to sit back down.  From this point on, you should stay silent and listen for your case to be called.  The judge will call each case one at a time.  When you are called, you will stand and say your name.  If the judge wants you to stand at a podium, he or she will direct you to do so. 

Most judges are very kind, friendly, and are nothing to fear.  But they usually have a lot of cases in front of them at once and it is their job to get through them all.  So, they tend to work at a quick pace.  If you are there on a “pretrial” hearing or conference, the judge will only want very basic and limited information to determine which direction the case is heading.  It is not time for the judge to hear evidence or delve into the details.

In civil court, the parties may be asked to mediate right then and there in court or shortly thereafter.  This means that you attempt to solve your dispute without the judge.  You and the other party would talk to a mediator who tries to help you reach an agreement that avoids the need to have a trial.  The mediator cannot make any final decisions in the case, they can only make suggestions.  Everything said to the mediator remains confidential.

If you have to go to court, it is best to talk to an attorney as early in the process as possible, even if you believe you cannot afford one.  Most law firms offer free consultations and can provide valuable insight or information relevant to your case.  If you ultimately choose to hire a lawyer, you may not need to attend court at all. 

If you have been recently sued and have a court date coming up, do not hesitate to contact the Holland Law Group to hire an experienced Florida attorney. We have attorneys throughout the state that can assist you whether you're in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Duval, Orlando, Sarasota, or any other area in Florida. Call (941)-306-3601 for your consultation today!

About the Author

Ryan Singleton

Ryan Singleton is a native of Portsmouth, RI but he is a long-time resident of St. Petersburg.  He attended Eckerd College from  and he graduated law school from Stetson University College of Law in 2005.  After 2 years of general practice, Ryan started managing a high-volume of bankruptcy cases ...

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