There are many things about which someone preparing to appear in court need to know. In a video series, I answer many of these questions about the law and more. (View them all here.) In today’s blog post, we’ll highlight some of the basic questions frequently asked about appearing in court.

What should I wear to court?

It’s a good thing to need an answer to this question because that means you’ve never been to court. The answer may vary depending upon the attorney you ask. Watch this video where I explain my views on this topic.


My tips include the following:

  • Do NOT wear a suit to court. This is because for most appearances wearing a suit can make you look desperate. There are exceptions:
    • People who are facing a murder charge should wear a suit.
    • And if you wear a suit in your normal day to day life and are comfortable in it.
  • DO wear business casual. Some suggestions:
    • That means a dress shirt / button down or nice blouse.
    • Nice pants or a skirt.
    • A modest dress would be ok.
  • Clothing options you definitely should NOT wear:
    • Do not wear a t-shirt, particularly one with a slogan. Those can be seen as disrespectful.
    • Shorts. In fact, some judges won’t even allow them into their courtroom.

Where Do I Sit in the Courtroom?

Seems like a simple topic, but it’s not necessarily self-explanatory. You may be on the docket with many other cases, so it is necessary to wait in the gallery. A couple of notes about coming to court:

  • One important rule for the courtroom is DON’T BE LATE!
  • A physical barrier (a.k.a. a bar) divides the courtroom into two parts. The gallery (audience) sits behind the bar with the judge, attorneys, defendant and other trial participants in front of it. You’ll sit in the gallery until your case is called.
  • Getting there early enables you to choose a good seat in the gallery. Sit close to front and near the aisle to wait your turn.
  • You go in front of the bar when the court calls your case.
  • Your attorney may have you sit at the table next to them, or the judge may have you stand in front of the courtroom to give your testimony.
  • If you sit at a table, the defendant’s table is the one furthest away from the jury box, even if there is no jury present. This helps the judge know right away which is the defendant.

For more information about courtroom seating, watch this video:


Will the Other Side Be There When I Talk to the Judge?

Often on television and in movies you’ll see attorneys in conversation with a judge outside the courtroom without the other side present. This may provide great theater on screen, but it almost never happens in real life.

Communication with a judge outside the presence of opposing counsel is called ex parte, which means one party in the case is excluded. The reason we say it almost never happens, instead of a definitive never happens, is in cases of emergency. In order to protect others in situations involving domestic violence or children an attorney may approach a judge outside the courtroom setting. But even in these cases a hearing must take place within 10 days, guaranteed. 

I cover this topic with a little more detail in this video:


If you find yourself in need of legal representation, call McKeehan Law Group today at (865)294-8008 or send us the details through our website.