Courtroom Etiquette 101: What to Wear to Court and How to Behave in Court

1)    Remove your hat and sunglasses before entering the courtroom.

2)    Do not chew gum in the courtroom, whether you are standing before the judge or seated and waiting for your hearing.

3)    Turn your phone off and leave it in your purse or pocket.  The bailiffs at the Middlesex and Suffolk Probate and Family Courts strictly enforce this rule, and will ask you to leave if they catch you using your phone.

4)    Children do not belong in the courtroom.  There is not a babysitting area in either the Middlesex or Suffolk Probate and Family Courts, so leave your children at home with a trusted adult.

5)    No temper tantrums, yelling, or histrionics.  If you want to make a point, stay calm and composed.

6)    In the courtroom, you should only talk if you are talking to the judge.  Do not chat with the person beside you while you wait, and do not talk to your attorney while the judge is talking to you.  (There may be exceptions where your attorney asks permission to confer with you while standing before the judge.)

7)    Never interrupt a judge. 

8)    Please try not to interrupt the opposing party.  Again, you should stay calm and collected and wait for your turn to speak.

9)    Wear conservative clothes.  If you have a suit, wear it.  If you don’t, wear your closest approximation to a suit.  It is not appropriate to wear shorts, show cleavage, or wear very tight clothes.  A judge may be irritated if your bracelets or necklaces make noise as you move.

10)   Show deference to the judge.  For example, do not address a judge by Mr. or Mrs.  You should call the judge “Your Honor.”