Courtroom Basics 101
Courtroom procedures are governed by a series of rules. The rule of law, which governs our justice system, is derived from a number of sources. While procedural rules have their part to play in regulating the trial process, there are also Courtroom Basics, which are equally important. The list below is not everything you will need to know, but it is a starting point.
RULE 1- KNOW THE COURTROOM PARTICIPANTS
The Clerk of Court is responsible for a wide range of duties, including the supervision of the internal administrative function of the court itself as well as the planning and administrative direction.
A Court’s Administrator functions under direction of the court to help develop and implement administrative policies and services. The court’s administrator’s office ensures court operations and judicial administrative needs are identified, and manages the daily operations of the court, under the direction of the presiding Judge.
The Marshal or Bailiff of the court is responsible for building security, courtroom security and personal security for all persons working for and doing business in the court.
Courtroom Legal Staff
Legal Staff within the courts may include Primary Legal Counsel, Staff Attorneys, Research Attorneys and Law Clerks. They examine briefs, case records and legal authorities. They also perform legal research, analysis and writing under general supervision.
The Court Reporter often sits near the witness stand. Their job is to record what is being said during the trial. They will also record information related to evidence that is presented to the court. They do this by typing it on a stenographic machine or by wearing a device that allows them to make a digital sound recording. This will be the official record of the trial.
The Jury will be the folks sitting in the boxed-in area . That area is usually located on a specific side of the courtroom. The jury is there to decide the facts in the case, and to apply the law once the judge has instructed them to do so.
RULE 2-KNOW YOUR COURTHOUSE
Know your courthouse; literally. What that means is, know the court’s layout. Going to a courthouse can be a source of anxiety for some people, so do yourself a favor and place yourself in a comfort zone. For example:
- Where are the restrooms?
- Where is the cafeteria?
- Where should you park?
Speak with your attorney and gather this information, also if time allows, go to the courthouse and look around ahead of the date you are scheduled to appear.
RULE 3-BE RESPECTFUL
Be respectful. You are in court, this is your day to help your attorney prove your case. Show up ready to do your part – be your “Best Self.”
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “There is no knowledge that is not power.” So learn the basics. Be knowledgeable about your courtroom.