A person’s first bankruptcy court or hearing appearance can be a nervous experience, especially if they have never had to appear in court before. The way a person presents themselves in court may hurt or help their case. Body language speaks very loudly in open court. Perhaps the most important thing a person can do is remain respectful to all parties present, whether they are the judge, lawyers, or clerks. Don’t attempt to talk over another person when they are talking and don’t use any words a normal person wouldn’t use in front of an elderly grandmother. Any person may be removed from the court room if the judge feels they are acting disrespectful. When deciding on what to wear, many recommend casual business attire. Jeans, shorts, and t-shirts should be avoided, as should bright and flashy colors. Think of a court date as a job interview at the court house. Dress to blend in, not to stand out.
Anyone with children should make every effort to leave the kids with a friend or sitter. Young children may cause distractions, which should be avoided. It is not a good idea to create distractions when discussing matters of debt and money. Older children may be able to remain quiet during a court proceeding, but it is hardly ever a good experience for kids to watch their parents be subjected to the scrutiny of the law. Make sure to be on time. There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait for one person so a hearing or trial can begin. Not only does this slow down the process, but it affects all other parties for all other cases that need to be heard. It is also important to be on time because it shows the court that a person is willing and determined to solve their problems. Being on time is the simplest sign of good faith a person can give. If someone thinks they are going to be even a few minutes late to bankruptcy court it would be wise to call their attorney or their attorney’s office to pass along the message. This will allow the court time to decide whether or not to postpone or reschedule the original hearing or trial, depending on the amount of time a person will be late by.
A good rule of thumb when appearing in court is to follow the lead of the attorneys. The attorneys are generally knowledgeable of what certain judges allow in their court rooms. If a lawyer stands to address someone, so should his or her client. If a person has to appear before a court Trustee, the person charged with administering the bankruptcy estate, the same respect should to given to them as would be given to any judge. The rules of each court will vary from courthouse to courthouse. Some may have more strict dress codes than others and some may have age restrictions on who can be present to watch a case. The suggestions above offer general advice that will help a person survive most court room settings.