I’m frequently asked what it’s like being a lawyer and what some of the interesting things are that I see in the courtroom. My assistant and I had the opportunity recently to see some things happen in court that are classic examples of what NOT to do.
Here are some things I consider to be “courtroom common sense” that might be a benefit to you if (or when) you ever have to go to court for some matter, be it small claims, an eviction, or money judgment issue:
- Show up on time (preferably early). I have seen cases dismissed for want of prosecution because the Plaintiff was more than 15 minutes late getting to court, and I’ve seen eviction cases dismissed in their entirety because the landlord was 20 minutes late.
- Show up prepared. Make sure you have the correct file with you.
- Do not talk on your cell phone while in the courtroom! If the judge is not in the courtroom, necessary texting may be appropriate, but make sure your phone is silenced.
- When the judge enters the courtroom, acknowledge his or her presence by standing in respect, and wait for the instruction to be seated. I said these things should be “common sense,” but apparently they need to be stated because my assistant and I witnessed #3 and #4 being disregarded at the same time! Needless to say, that made for one very unhappy judge.
- If you’re going to take a case to court, make sure it is of significance. You need to be able to explain succinctly to the court why you are there and what your position is.
Here’s the bottom line. Don’t take going into court lightly. If a situation can be worked out between the parties without going before a judge, that is certainly the preferable way to go. If court intervention is necessary, make sure you take it seriously and give the proper attention and respect that each aspect of the process deserves.
Attorney Jeffrey S. Watson, Esquire is council to the National Association of Real Estate Investors and an advisor to the Metrolina Real Estate Investors Association, www.metrolinareia.org, which provides education, networking, and mentoring to investors in the greater Charlotte area. You may contact Jeff at [email protected].