Going to Court
Sooner or later everyone has to go to court for something or other. Courts can be pretty intimidating the first time you visit. Since you’ve probably never been to court before you don’t know where to go or what to do once you’re there. Here’s some practical advice that should make the experience a little easier.
- First, you have to know what court you’re going to. We have three courts; Circuit Court [divorces, felonies] District Court [misdemeanors, small claims] and Probate Court [adoptions, estates, juvenile court.] Probate Court is sometimes called Family Court. Look at the notice or subpoena that tells you to come to court. It will say at the top which court you’re looking for. Each courtroom and court clerk’s office has a sign above the door.
- If you’re meeting your lawyer at court, call a day ahead and make sure you know where you’re going to meet them. I like to meet in front of the courtroom doors. They’re easy to find. I take care of getting us to the right place after that.
- If you’re going to Probate or District Court, go to the Clerks office [sign above door, remember?] and check in with the clerk behind the window. They will check your name off the list and make sure your file gets sent into the courtroom. Then go to the courtroom and wait for your name to be called. Be patient. Courts do not move quickly.
- Can you bring kids to court? Yes, but don’t. There isn’t anything for them to see and they cause disruption in court.
Leave them at home.
- What should you wear to court? That depends upon how you
want to be treated. Courts are places of first impressions. If you want to be treated like a criminal, dress like a criminal. If you want to be treated like a respectable citizen, dress like one. Appearance counts.
- Above all don’t be intimidated by what you see in the
Courthouse hallways. Solid citizens on business, criminals in chains and prison suits, babies on the floor, cops, lawyers, and dysfunctional groups of all kinds gather in those halls.
Courts, like emergency rooms, are places of high emotion and controlled chaos. Check in with the clerk, meet your lawyer, relax and enjoy the best free show in town.