Etiquette: the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.
If you take a look at the definition of the word 'etiquette' in the Oxford dictionary, the above mentioned is exactly what you will find. The unfortunate part though is that, most often, people lack it. Be it social etiquette or otherwise, coming across cultured people is very increasingly turning into a rarity these days. It wouldn't be wrong to say that most parents work very hard to teach their children good manners, and when older, expect them to indulge in fine social behavior, but let's have a moment of truth here... How often does it really turn out like that? Not too often is what I'm thinking. But here's the deal... A little bit of training, and etiquette can be cultivated. Remember Pygmalion by G.B. Shaw? That apart, the point here is, etiquette is essential, and one of the few places where it is of extreme importance to exhibit, is in a courtroom. How about a look at what court etiquette is all about, and what exactly is the protocol that must be followed when in an environment like such.
Some DOs and DON'Ts
We all know that there is nothing fun about having to make an appearance in court. Irrespective of the reason, there are some places that you just never want to be at. But for whatever reason, if you just have to be there, you may as well observe the decorum of the place. Here is a list of things that make for an essential part of the etiquette.
► Courtesy: There are a lot of aspects that could be placed at the first spot, but here's the one I think is most important. Always address the judge as "Your Honor". There is no other title that you should use when addressing an authority so high. Also, keep your voice down, and maintain absolute politeness throughout. In addition to that, no matter what, never argue with the judge.
► Attire: Ideally, this list should have started with attire, but the above mentioned seemed a tad more crucial. In regards with the attire you opt for when making a courtroom appearance, make sure you go formally dressed, the most suitable look being a business suit. Although, a lot of people may think this one goes without saying (which it ideally should), a lot of people refuse to either understand it, or follow it. Also, no additional accessories like sunglasses, hats, or in case of women, loud colors or bold jewelry.
► Punctuality: Next in line comes punctuality. There are no exceptions when it comes to this one. Tardiness is simply inexcusable. If you have to be present at the courtroom, it is evident that it isn't for fun, and that it must be treated as an absolute priority. Nothing, and I mean nothing can be more important than the fact that you have been asked to be there at a specific time, unless of course, you are looking to get into further trouble.
► Language: You are in a courtroom, possibly for the wrong reasons, therefore you would want to keep a check on the language used before the judge and the attorney. Not to mention the opposing counsel (in situations where there is one). No slang or derogatory language will be accepted or forgiven by anyone. Make sure to use regular formal English only. No matter how aggravated you may feel in a certain situation, no swearing or cuss words please.
► Gadgets and Entertainment: It doesn't matter how long you have to wait before you are presented before the judge, you cannot kill time by listening to your iPod, playing on your phone, texting someone, and the likes of it. Yes, it would be boring, and quite an ordeal having to wait on your turn, but there is hardly any choice. Violating these rules could lead to you being asked to leave the courtroom.
► Food: Yet again, you must remember that you are in the courtroom for a purpose, and that purpose most certainly is no picnic. Do not carry food, drinks, etc. Do not be seen chewing on gun either. It is uncouth in a situation like such, and most certainly is unacceptable. While we are at the food aspect of it, I may as well mention, DO NOT show up drunk!! The only thing that state will do for you is, get you in a lot of trouble!
► Miscellaneous: In case of the presence of children, ensure that they are well mannered and do not create a ruckus. Maintain silence at all times, and in case of your cell phone, keep it switched off. If not that, do the bare minimum of keeping it on silent. Do not carry weapons of any sort. Speak only when spoken to. And if you ever are unsure of anything, clarify before going ahead with it.
The above mentioned covers practically all that you need to know about the court etiquette. For the rest of it, just keep your manners in place, and the chances of any odd situations coming up, seem rather unlikely.