Protocol and Practice of Persons Appearing in the Court of Judge Lisa Ann VandenBerg

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Specific Comments or Advice for Litigants

Specific Requirements or Preferences • The best place to begin the probate process is on line at or by going in person to the self help center located in the law library at 101 West Jefferson.  
• Almost all of the forms you need for probate court are online or at the self help center.  
• Another resource is the Probate Practice Manuel which can be located in the law library.  
• To Young Lawyers, be on time and prepared, and courteous to opposing counsel and Court Staff. Also, be prepared to educate the Court with either controlling Rules or Case law and issues that you care about. As well, you are not expected to have an answer for everything, but are expected to tell the truth. It is okay to not know an answer, and inform the Court accordingly.  
• To Pro Per Litigants, be careful what you ask for… by electing to represent yourself you have chosen to be held to the same professional standard for ethics and decorum as an Attorney and the Court will expect such. You are to remain calm, and patient, throughout the course of the case. While rules and motions and hearings can be overwhelming, frustration can impact the outcome of a case.  
• To Litigants, read your paperwork and the Courthouse/ Courtroom signage. It is common for folks to be in the wrong location, to either bring unapproved items such (as gum) or have inappropriate attire (such a halter top) when entering the Courtroom. As well, a good rule of thumb for attendance at a hearing is “early is on time”.  
• To All Litigants, please recognize the Courtroom Staff play an important role; these persons deserve your respect and can help you.

Pre-Trial Practice and Management Issues

Other Pre-trial Practice Guidelines or Comments • If you are contacting the Court Staff via email, first consider if email is the appropriate vehicle. Motions are to be filed with the Clerk of the Court; an email communication is not an appropriate substitute. As well, consider whether your email interaction with Court Staff could be considered an ex parte communication or might violate an ethics rule for you or the staff member.

Trial Practice and Protocol

Trial Practice and Procedure • Counsel must bring their own equipment to be used during the trial as the court has none to lend out.  
• I do not have particular protocol for how attorneys must examine a witness (e.g. at a podium, seated, or at counsel table), as long as they do not question the witness in front of the witness box.  
• If written motions are going to be filed during trial, counsel must advise the Court ahead of time before the Motion is filed so the Court can determine if it’s necessary.  
Courtroom Etiquette • The attorneys treat opposing counsel with respect. When they are in my courtroom, this means being courteous and professional at all times, even if outside the courtroom they have personal differences with opposing counsel.  
• If it is hot in the courtroom, and wearing a jacket is too uncomfortable, counsel may remove the jacket without seeking court permission.  
• Court staff must be respected, as they are an extension of the Bench. Please make every effort to make their lives easier via common courtesy. For example, notify staff if you are running late. Your consideration will be both appreciated and remembered.