Jan 27

“Your Honor” and Other Courtroom Etiquette

Written by: Mikaila Matt


Your Honor

Your honor is a term used by attorneys in court when speaking to a judge. The phrase your honor meaning is a sign of respect. It is one of several common lawyer phrases in court. The ‘your honor’ definition per Oxford Dictionary is “high respect; great esteem” and “a title of respect given to or used in addressing a judge or a mayor”.

You may hear phrases like “Your Honor,” “May it please the court,” “May I approach,” and other old-fashioned courtroom phrases,  sayings in court, and meanings that are part of courtroom etiquette for lawyers. Have you ever wondered why your attorney says these weird and formal phrases during your court hearing? These phrases are used to recognize the importance of the court and show respect to the judge. They are some of the weird terms used in courtrooms and are part of proper courtroom etiquette.

Other basic courtroom etiquette rules that show respect for the lawyer courtroom, Court, and Judge, whether you are in court to plead guilty, you are a criminal defendant, and in any and all civil cases and criminal cases:

  • Dress professionally in pants or slacks, collared shirts, and/or a sweater during court proceedings. Avoid clothing that has inappropriate slogans or is revealing, and do not wear shorts or jeans.
  • Pay attention to each courthouse’s instruction on what is allowed through security because each court has its own guidelines. Bring the bare minimum with you and leave any potentially dangerous items at home like manicure sets, tweezers, glass containers, utility tools (like a Leatherman), knives, metal forks and spoons, pepper spray and mace, concealed weapons even if you have a permit, and essential oils. Be sure to ask your attorney before your hearing if there is anything you should be aware of prior to your hearing.
  • Be early. You want to give yourself enough time to park and go through security.
  • Turn off your cellphone or leave it in your car. Some courts do not allow cellphones usage during a court appearance.
  • Be sure to stand when you speak to the judge.
  • When speaking in court, speak slowly, clearly, and loud enough for the court reporter to write down everything you are saying.
  • Don’t interrupt an attorney or the judge.courtroom etiquette
  • Be mindful of the microphone.
  • Use a legal pad to ask your attorney questions.
  • Pay attention to your body language and distracting behavior. The judge and others in the courtroom are able to see you when you roll your eyes, shake your head, huff, sigh, or fidget.
  • Do not chew gum or bring food with you.
  • Do not bring your children with you (unless you are told to by your attorney or the court).

If you are worried about what to expect in an upcoming hearing or courtroom etiquette and worried about phrases judges use in court, we can help.

Our attorneys are familiar with the expectations in South Carolina Family Court. Schedule a consultation to talk with us about your situation.

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