You are Being Judged: How to Dress & Act in Court

Believe it or not, when you walk into a courtroom, the judge, opposing lawyer and jury start judging you, and it begins with the way you present yourself.  Namely, your clothes and behavior will be carefully observed by those in the courtroom.  You must think about the clothes you will wear and how you act while you are there.  Remember, you only have ONE chance to make a first impression.

Dress for success.  If you have a court date, you should think of it as a formal, work event. If you wouldn’t wear shorts and flip flops to a company holiday party or a corporate interview, then you definitely should NOT wear it to court.  A pre-trial conference is not the place to wear a jersey, sweatpants, a crop top, cannabis earrings, or flashy jewelry.  Some other things you should not wear to court are: hats, flip flops, baggy pants, sweatshirts, graphic t-shirts (or any type of clothing) with profanity on it, clothes showing undergarments, or anything revealing in any way. When you dress nicely, you show the judge and jury that you – not only respect the courtroom – but are serious about your case.  If you need to make sure your clothing is appropriate, think of this mantra:  

Bend down and touch your toes, if skin shows, change your clothes

Always choose conservative over trendy clothing.  For guys, wear khakis, a button down shirt (tucked in), and nice dress shoes with socks.  Ladies, wear a dress or skirt (no more than two inches above your knee), or long dress pants, and a nice shirt that covers your stomach.  Presenting yourself in a favorable way – in the court – even goes beyond the clothes you wear.  It has to do with how you behave.

Actions can speak louder than words.  Choose your actions wisely.  Act professional and respectful to all the people in the courthouse building.  There are some things you will want to consider when entering court. First, chewing gum is looked down upon; it makes you appear nonchalant or uncaring about your case. In addition, your personal hygiene is very noticeable to the judge, jury and opposing lawyer.  Please make sure you shower, comb your hair, shave, and don’t wear long acrylic nails or smell like alcohol and/or marijuana.  Next, you will want to keep your emotions subdued and “in check” from the moment you step into the courthouse building.  Please, no emotional outbursts in the courtroom!  If you have an emotional outburst in there, or seem smug or cocky, the judge will definitely notice and make note of that.  Be in control of your emotions.  Finally, always be polite – especially when it comes to the judge presiding over your case.  Never interrupt the judge when he/she is speaking.  Wait your turn to talk.  Also, address the judge with respectful words like, “Your Honor, Ma’am or Sir.”  The most important takeaway of this article is to take your court hearing, and whole case, seriously.  Your actions should reflect that you care about the outcome.  This may tip the verdict in your favor, and that’s your goal.

In summary, if you wear the appropriate clothes and act respectful the courtroom, you will be regarded as more reputable, and taken much more seriously.  Specifically, dressing and acting in the way described above will give you a far greater chance of favorable outcome in court.