Know Your Lines or Get a Coach

I think that working in a Courtroom is much the same as working on a movie set, a perspective I have after having worked for in an earlier career directing and producing film and video.
The Judge is like the Director. And like a director, what happens on the set or Courtroom is up to the Judge. He makes every decision. And everyone else in the Courtroom are the actors and have a part to play. The sheriff who stands guard, the prosecutor and defense attorneys who all are appropriately dressed for the performance, and the Judge who sits high above everyone in his or her imposing black robes. And, depending on their roles, the actors, (err lawyers), are expected to greet the Bench and then recite their required lines.

Even the seated people in the audience have roles to play. Some are the Defendant’s friends or family members, victims, or just curious onlookers. All are expected to behave respectfully, standing when the Judge enters or leaves the Courtroom. The script is rigorously followed and the spoken lines from case to case, are often the same phrases over and over again. Usually the accused has little or no understanding of what is going on.

The entire proceeding is in many ways a show, full of symbolism and ritual. For the players, and everyone in the Courtroom becomes a player when they enter, and if you are a Defendant, you are also expected to play your role. In fact if you are a Defendant, you have a starring role. But, unless you have had a lot of experience, you will assume this role without much rehearsing. And it is pretty important performance. Your freedom may depend on what you do and how you act in the Courtroom.

So the more you can find out before going into the Courtroom; what to expect, who the other people in the Courtroom are, how to dress, what and what not to say, etc, etc, etc., the better, what the Judge is like and what to expect, and lots of other info. So, unless you know what your doing, it’s probably best to hire an experienced criminal attorney if you are charged with something. While no one wants to spend the money, it can save you a lot of grief and more in the long run.