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Tips on Self Representation
The Court is a very traditional
and polite place. When you are representing yourself in Court you are trying to
persuade a judge or a jury that you are right. So you must act, dress, and speak
in a way that helps you with your case. Here are some tips:
- When you come to Court, dress as professionally as possible. This means clothes
that are neat and clean, and without holes. You should be clean and neatly groomed.
- How you act is as important as how you look. You must be respectful to everyone
in Court. This includes the judge, court staff, the other party involved in your
case, witnesses, and people in the hallways.
- The Court has a very busy schedule, so you must be on time for the judge or for
any other appointment. If you are late, your case might get postponed, or you could
get in trouble with the judge. Make sure you bring all the court documents you need
for your appointment.
- The judge or commissioner cannot speak to you about your case except when your case
is being heard and when the other party is there. The judge's staff will help you
in any way they can with questions like when your hearing is scheduled or whether
the judge has decided yet on your case. But, staff cannot give you legal advice
or recommendations on what you should do. Always be polite with judges and with
Court staff, and be prepared to provide any information they request.
- When you represent yourself in Court, get legal advice from a lawyer ahead of time
to make sure you are doing the right thing. Legal advice includes deciding what
option is best for you. Some lawyers provide "coaching" which is a way of helping
you help yourself. This is different from and cheaper than hiring a lawyer to represent
- In summary, always remember the 4 p's; Professionalism, Punctuality
(or being on time), Politeness, and Preparation. This will go a long
way toward helping you help yourself in Court.