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San Diego Court Room Appropriate Attire and Behavior: 2011

In San Diego Court, credibility is always an issue. The Judges, whether a divorce, legal separation, paternity or nullity action look to credibility when allegations are made. How you look and how you act can make a difference in the outcome of your family law case. In San Diego, the Superior Court Judges do not know you personally and do not know anything about you or your family except what they have read in the file. First impressions are the most important and this article will discuss what appropriate behavior and appropriate attire would be for your nullity, paternity, legal separation or divorce case.

Divorce, nullity, paternity and legal separation can be very emotional cases. Emotion’s can lead to conduct which would be viewed negatively by a Judge. Remember, your life is under a “microscope” during your legal separation, nullity, paternity or divorce case and do not do or say anything you would not want the Judge to look at with disfavor. Many now use communication forms such as e mail or texting. Remember, these can be printed out and shown to a Judge at the hearing. The Judge is not emotional about your case and has to act in accordance with the law. Yelling, swearing, threatening and other verbal forms of harassment are frowned upon by the Judges who expect everyone to be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect. Of course, this applies especially to family law cases where the tension and conflict is so high. Conduct outside the court can be introduced in family law court. When in court, always remember that the Judge is viewing you for credibility. Do not interrupt the Judge or the other party. Doing so will be looked at negatively. Always answer the questions honestly and as straight forward as possible. Remember you are not allowed to videotape or audiotape the proceedings in court. If you want a record of what was said, you can ask for a copy of the transcript which is available directly from the Court reporter for a fee.

How you appear can also make a difference as the Judge’s are used to being shown respect for their position as well as for the law and the legal system. For example, wearing shorts, flip flops and a sleeveless t shirt to court will not make the same impression as wearing more formal clothes. Many attorneys wear suits. While you do not have to wear a suit, a formal appearance shows dignity and respect. In addition, make sure to turn off your cell phone when you walk into court. If your cell phone goes off audibly while the court is in session, this is also viewed negatively. Put your cell phone away when you enter the court room. The Sheriff’s also do not like if you wear a hat or sunglasses in the court room. Judge’s do not decide cases on appearance but, as we all know, appearance is very important to any legal presentation. Of course, it is not appropriate to go to court under the influence of any drug or alcohol unless your medication is prescribed by law and you can testify and/or answer questions from the Judge or Counsel while taking the medicine. Do not bring any weapons to the court house. Do not bring any contraband to the court house as all are subject to search when entering the court house. If you have children you brought with you who are under 18 years old, they are not allowed in the court room. Bringing them into the court room and exposing them to adult issues in your case, as well as any others, would make a negative appearance.

In conclusion, there are many more issues regarding conduct and attire. Most fall under what is called “common sense” but this is a different standard for all. If you have a court appearance, and are not represented currently by an attorney, please feel free to contact us and discuss what would be the best conduct and attire for you.

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