It is always a good rule of thumb to be respectful when entering a courtroom. I often find myself taken aback by the appearance and behavior of people as they are asking a judge to make a major decision on serious issues–such as divorce, child support, alimony, or time-sharing–in their lives. Many people come in shorts, chew gum, and treat the courtroom like their living room. Such behavior leaves a poor impression on the judge and may impact the outcome of their matter.
The Family Law Division of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County), like many courts around Florida, has a code of conduct: The Twelve Rules of Courtroom Civility. Most of these rules are simply about common courtesy, and include the following instructions:
- Other than to make appropriate objections, do not interrupt anyone when he or she is speaking;
- Do not make faces or gestures at the opposing party or his or her attorney;
- Dress appropriately and wear clean clothes. Specifically, you should not enter a courtroom in shorts, jeans, a t-shirt, or sneakers; and
- Do not bring any food or beverages in the courtroom, and do not chew gum.
To maximize the chances of a successful outcome in your matter, become familiar with the rules and procedures of both your circuit and your specific judge.