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Going To Court? What Not To Do!

Attorney Mike Bottaro identifies 5 things that drive judges crazy.


Whether for a traffic ticket or jury trial, going to Court is a big deal. It is such a big deal that in legal writing we capitalize the “C” in “Court.” 

Going to Court is like going to Church. When you are in Church, you are in God’s house. When you are in Court, it is best to also behave as if you are in God’s house, because some judges view themselves this way! Here are five things not to do when you go to Court:

 1. Keep your cell phone on – or worse – talk or text on your phone.

 Recently in Court, many of us were treated to a catchy new dance jingle that erupted in the midst of a judge’s stern instructions. It was, or course, someone’s ring tone.

 2. Chew gum.

On the list of items that can drive a judge completely apoplectic, gum chewing is quite high.

 3. Arrive late.

This one is common sense, but there are many people who are habitually late for all appointments in their lives.  For these clients, we tell them that their Court appointment is one half hour earlier than scheduled.

 4. Arrive with screaming children.

While some judges can be sympathetic to our child care issues and may not openly scold you, arriving to Court with children may, at a minimum, distract the judge from your case.

5. Present yourself in an unkempt manner.

Many of us wait a long time for our “day in Court.”  Dressing reminds the judge that you take the proceedings seriously and that you have the proper respect for the Court.

Mike Bottaro is founder of Bottaro Law, practicing RI personal injury law. Our firm prepares every case for Court. Before Court, we provide our clients with the above information (as well as information more specific to their case). We always provide free consultations on personal injury issues such as RI workers compensation law, auto accident law, and RI SSDI law at 401 – 383 – 5007.

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Alicarn January 25, 2013 at 11:17 PM
I had to go to court for a traffic ticket a few years ago. I was worried that people who were called before me were given some pretty hefty fines for less than what I was there for. When my name was called and before I even got to the front of the court, the judge asked me if I had been ticketed in the past 3 years. I said no and he told me to sign some paperwork. I whispered to the court worker "was that it?" he said "yes" and I signed and left. I am absolutely convinced it was because I wore a dress and looked presentable while the others who had been fined had not.
ru4real January 26, 2013 at 12:01 AM
It had not a thing to do with the way you were dressed. It was due to the good driving rule where no tickets in three years gave you a pass on a minor offense. I do not think that is still the case. Comment attorney Bottaro? As an aside, having handled many a district court case pro se, (I have never lost) I agree with attorney Bottaro's comments. The spectacles that one may observe in the courtroom is sometimes akin to a bad circus of the absurd. One must also remember that judges are exalted humans with all the vanity and other peculiarities that accompany them. Generally speaking court is not just, especially at the upper levels, unless you can afford the justice.
Mike Bottaro January 26, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Hi Alicarn and ru4real.... Likely, ru4real is correct. The typical practice is for municipal Courts to take the "good driving record" people first. The traffic tribunal has a form referencing this statute that is here: http://www.courts.ri.gov/PublicResources/forms/Traffic%20Tribunal%20Forms/Request%20for%20Good%20Driving%20Record%20Dismissal.pdf
Govstench January 27, 2013 at 12:57 PM
I went to court in Warren for a traffic ticket many years ago. It involved a "rookie" officer and was not happy with his demeanor. I had my attorney with me for court and I always wear a suit for the respect. The "rookie" arrived late, looked disheveled and the judge was not happy. Needless to say we won our case but it was more interesting to hear the judge tell the town attorney to have the chief and this officer back in his chambers in the afternoon. I understood the officer was let go about a month later.
Suzanne Arena January 27, 2013 at 02:38 PM
The few times I get a ticket for speeding I am in the courtroom and witness zoolike people. It's not as bad as going to Family Court when I went through my divorce, but I still feel the urge to bring my Lysol can and turn to the non-English speaking people around me and yell shut up and act respectible. Perhaps the rules in our Courts vary from other countries (although I wouldn't think so). Trumping outfit or behavior seems to be that good driving record. BUT, you still have to pay the Court Fees :(
Politics Sheriff of NK January 28, 2013 at 07:41 AM
"zoolike" "lysol" "non-english speaking" "from other countries" and... "divorced". I wonder why!
Renee Cwiek January 28, 2013 at 11:18 AM
oh my goodness. wow.
Small Change January 28, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Ouch. Not yer best work. Especially coming from someone who admirably spends much time advocating for dignity and respect.
Hairsonfire January 28, 2013 at 04:06 PM
I was amazed at the lack of courtesy and respect shown by the majority of folks in the courtroom when I was at traffic court in Providence recently. Hands in pockets, no "good morning" or "your honor" or "yes sir" or "no sir." Everyone looked very sloppy too. Just remarkable.
Diana January 28, 2013 at 05:43 PM
This is great but how do you prove that you have NOT had a violation according to the form. If you have not had a fine, there is no proof.
Leave RI January 28, 2013 at 05:48 PM
The judge and police have your driving record in front of them (from the registry).
Jack Baillargeron January 28, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Diana Ahh The clerks check it later and if you lied that is perjury a lot more serious crime that can include jail time, large fine, cost of a lawyer etc.
Jack Baillargeron January 28, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Also as Leave RI said they only ask or say that to those who they allready know if you ever go there to listen to the excuses which are quite amusing to say the leaast, wish they would televise it like they use to for providence at one time on the State wide channel. Was a lot better than Judge Judy or them other ones. lol
Job Seeker January 28, 2013 at 06:00 PM
It truly amazes me as well, you would think no matter the reason You are there in a courthouse, that you would dress the part and be respectful to those who are in authority in that building and leave your attitude and your low hanging jeans with boxers showing there as well
Diana January 28, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Oh I have used that statute on 2 ocassions but I never had to fill out a form.
David Silvia January 29, 2013 at 02:24 AM
have you been to a traffic tribunal court session, bring your spanish dictionary, because 90% of those drivers do not speak english. With the money the DMV is collecting for those bad drivers, you have to ask why is the state looking to toll the bridges. Where is that money going?
English first January 29, 2013 at 01:15 PM
I guess you fit right in. I would be ashamed to have posted this.
English first January 29, 2013 at 02:42 PM
The bailiff (sp) is usually in charge of keeping people quiet and in their seats. Parents are supposed to teach their children how to dress at court.
Alicarn January 30, 2013 at 04:17 AM
CranstDONE, that was uncalled for and, poof, your rude comment has disappeared!!
dphs18 January 30, 2013 at 01:12 PM
In the summer, don't wear shorts, you'll be sent home.
English first January 30, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Sounds like you were there. Do you also speak Spanish?
David Silvia January 30, 2013 at 02:38 PM
English !st - yes i speak english as I am an american, my post was to point out of the fines that are being collect yet the state wants to toll the bridges, it was not ref anything other then that, other than most of the people in court are spanish orgigan. And I was there with my nephew who got a ticket.
English first January 30, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Many Americans speak multiple languages.

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