Demeanor and Dress
Proper courtroom attire is stylish, but conservative. If you appear in outdated styles, some jury members, especially younger ones, may view you as a throwback from another generation. Unfortunately, this could affect the way your testimony is evaluated. Stylish doesn't mean faddish; avoid clothing that may be in one year and out the next or styles that can be acceptable in another situation but are too casual, radical, distracting, or revealing for the formality of a courtroom. Classic colors and styles with updated cuts and fabrics are the best choices, and they stamp you as someone with dignity and taste. Attire should enhance your professional image without drawing attention to what you wear.
In states where attire is spelled out for attorneys, you can use the state rules as guidelines. For example, Oklahoma County asks attorneys to abide by Local Rule 40, which outlines proper dress and demeanor. Men are required to wear suits or jackets and ties. Women must wear either dresses or professional suits with skirts or pants. Rule 40 also requires attorneys to maintain courtesy and civility with all. In jurisdictions without such rules, the PI should investigate and follow the accepted dress and demeanor of attorneys who regularly appear in court. Further rules to follow are:
Always be on time. This cannot be overstated.
You will be searched long before you get inside the courtroom, so don't bring weapons; they're not allowed in the building.
The removal of hats is considered respectful, and often required, before entering a courtroom. The exception is religious attire.
Refrain from doing anything to distract the process, such as coming in and out excessively, talking loudly, tapping your foot, or moving around in your seat too much.
Don't eat, drink, or chew gum.
Don't slouch, look disinterested, or roll your eyes when you disagree with a statement.
Keep your hands away from your face and resting calmly in your lap.
Look directly at your questioner during questioning and when answering him.
Turn off all cell phones or paging devices; most jurisdictions also ban the use of laptops or the reading of newspapers and books in court.
Don't bring recording devices into the courtroom without prior approval of the judge.
If you haven't testified in court or been chosen for jury duty, you may not understand the importance of these rules. If not, please understand one thing: When you are in court, you are likely to be watched and evaluated, whether you testify or not. If you testify, you'll be scrutinized.