Preparing for Court: Civil Suits
The most important thing to remember about preparing for court is that your opponent, or the defendant, will definitely be prepared. Your evidence must counteract and supercede whatever paperwork the defendant has.
1. Know The Procedure
Civil suits are just as emotionally and mentally draining as criminal court procedings; perhaps more so. You do not need an attorney to pursue a civil case, which means that you will be responsible for dictating the details of your complaint and for delivering the facts necessary to convince the judge.
Before your court date arrives, read literature about civil court proceedings. Learn everything you can about what goes on in the court room so that you aren’t surprised when you do it yourself. Learn proper etiquette for speaking to a judge and how your case should be presented. This will prove an invaluable tool when faced with the situation yourself.
There is nothing more embarassing – or frustrating – than arriving in court with papers scattered about, file folders labeled incorrectly, and facts mixed up. Go over your case several time and organize papers in the precise order in which you will need them. Keep file folders labeled correctly and neatly, and group information according to their relevance to the case.
The most logical way to organize your information is chronologically. The judge will expect a day-by-day account of what happened to lead you to court, and will probably not appreciate it if you jump around. A happy judge is more likely to empathize with your plight, so take care to make things run as smoothly as possible.
3. Highlight & Underline
When presenting evidence to the judge, you will quite possibly be submitting extraneous information, such as an itemized receipt or bill. If there is a particular section that is relevant to the case, do the judge a favor and mark the important passages. They run through cases all day, every day, and their eyes get tired from reading through impertinent information.
4. Dress Professionally
It is not acceptable to arrive at court wearing jeans and a tank top. Even if your job doesn’t require professional dress, it is important that you wear a suit or skirt and blouse to court. If the judge thinks that you are some hillbilly coming in off the street, he or she isn’t likely to rule in your favor.
5. Be Polite
The one thing that will ruin your case the fastest is undiplomatic or disrespectful attitudes. Never talk directly to the defendant, no matter how heated the courtroom becomes. Speak only to the judge, and only when you are asked a question. Say please, thank you, and never say anything disparaging about the defendant that does not pertain to the case.
6. Be Concise.
Answers to questions should be short, concise, and devoid of extraneous information. The judge doesn’t care about how your dog got loose the day you were wronged by the defendant; the judge cares about the facts, and won’t be moved by “back story.”
Following these guidelines will help you through your court case, and might help you to secure a win. Do as much research as possible about civil litigation; being prepared will make all the difference.