Whether you are an attorney or just a normal individual who got involved in legal matters and is visiting the court, it is important to know how to address a judge in court. When it comes to a courtroom, a judge has the absolute power. In many civil cases, he/she will give plenty of verdicts concerning your case, and as a legal representative, you need to know the appropriate verbal and body language.
While addressing the judge, you need to make sure that you speak politely and maintain an even temper whether or not the ruling seems to be in your favour. Although in the majority of the cases, the general term used to address a judge is “Your Honor”, it is also highly essential to know how to interact in a courtroom through your body language and behaviour as well. The way you physically present yourself is of as much importance as what you are going to say to the judge. You do not have to be intimidated by the thought of this. Just a little practice, time and effort, you can learn the tips and tricks of how to properly address a judge in court.
How To Address A Female Judge
There is not any particular or special way to address a female judge. Usually, both male and female judges are addressed as “Your Honour”. Addressing judges as “Sir” or “Madam” is not considered to be appropriate. Moreover, oftentimes different judges are addressed differently depending upon their role or position.
For example, male Supreme Court or Court of Appeal judges are called “My Lord”, or “Your Lordship” Similarly, a female judge of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal would be addressed as “My Lady” or “Your Ladyship”.
How To Address A Supreme Court Judge
You can simply call them ‘My Lord’ or ‘My Lady’ in court. However, as far as letters or correspondence are concerned, you can address the judge as either ‘Justice of the Supreme Court <Full name>’ or ‘<Full name> JSC’ and then start the letter with either ‘Dear Lord / Lady <Name>’ or ‘Dear Justice <Name>’.
On the other hand, if you are addressing a letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, it should go ‘The Honourable <Full Name> Chief Justice, Supreme Court of the United States’. You can then start the letter with ‘Dear Chief Justice’.
How To Address Multiple Judges In A Court
Another question that people who are new to the legal matters generally ask and that is how to address multiple judges in a court. Keep in mind that although there are certain mannerisms that you need to follow, there is no set formula. All you have to do is stay respectful. If there are multiple judges in the courtroom and you want to address all of them at the same time, you can simply say “Your Honours”. If this not how you want to go about, then you can also respectfully stand up and say something along the lines of “I would like to address the whole jury”
Role Of Judges In Criminal Cases
In a criminal court, the role of a judge can be split into 5 basic elements:
Manager: The judge has to manage the entire case including setting the schedule and hearing the motions. A clerk might oversee the calendar generally but it is the judges duty to make major decisions that will move the case forward.
Referee: The judge also has to make sure to rule out the motions, be the voice of reason if the attorneys get riled up or get into an argument, support scared witnesses and control the testy audience.
Fact Finder: The judge must rule on the legitimacy or relevance of the evidence provided in the court along with the reliability of the witnesses.
Jurist: The role of a judge is also to look over examinations conducted by the attorneys, called voir dire. Moreover, they also have to make sure that the jury remains unbiased.
Sentencer: Depending upon the arguments presented by the opposing lawyer as well as the advice of the jury, the judge also hands out penalties and sentences based on how guilty the accused is.
Role Of Judges In Civil Cases
A judge gets familiar with the case by reading important cases papers before actually trying the case. Since a lot of civil courts do not have a jury, the judge has to hear the case, find facts and apply them, and then give a judgement all on his/her own. Moreover, the judge also has to manage the court which is somewhat similar to criminal cases and includes ensuring that the opposing parties cooperate with each other throughout the case and maintain the decorum of the courtroom. The judge has to aid the parties to settle the case and also be in charge of the overall momentum of the case. After listening to all the evidence provided by both the parties, he/she also has to announce a judgment or a penalty. This may happen right away, or could take longer time depending upon how complicated the case is.
Speaking To The Judge
- Along with being polite in your vocabulary and language, your tone should also be calm and collected and should not show any kind of aggression. Moreover, the body language should also be composed.
- Whenever addressing the court, it is mandatory that you stand. Apart from showing that you are being respectful, it also helps the entire courtroom hear you better. Remember to return to where you were seated once you are done speaking as this will let the judge know that you don’t have anything more to say.
- Do not forget to make eye contact with the judge It gives the impression that you are paying attention.
- When addressing the judge, always use the correct title which expresses your respect. Usually specific titles are also used to identify the importance of the roles of the judges on the jury.
- Make sure that you do not interrupt or talk over anyone in the court, be it the judge or the other attorneys. It is key that you wait until you are asked by the judge to present your point.
- Understand that the judge is only representing the court and that you need to make sure that you address the entire court as well. Do not use words or statements that would make it look like you are ordering the court or demanding something from it.
- If for some reason you are unable to understand the question the judge or the court has asked of you, then ask for an explanation in a civilised manner. It is important that you voice the fact that you did not understand the question, however, do so politely. Only answer the question once you have fully understood it.
- After you are finished speaking, remember to thank the judge.
Conducting Yourself In Court
- Make sure you reach the court early and talk to the court staff as to how the judge likes to be addressed. You cannot do this once the judge enters the courtroom.
- If you want to speak to the judge, stand up and politely ask for permission. You can continue with whatever you want to say if the permission is granted; if not then sit down again. Do not approach the judge outside of the courtroom.
- In the courtroom, your behaviour should be calm, respectful and quiet. Do not participate in things like eating, drinking, smoking, laughing loudly or chewing gum.
- Make sure to switch off your cell phone or put it on silent mode because if that is not the case, it will make you seem disrespectful, distracted, unbothered and unprofessional.
- If your friends and family are present in the courtroom as an audience then let them know of the behavioural protocol before court proceedings.
- If you disagree with something, jot it down and address it when it is your turn to speak. Do ot interrupt whoever is speaking.
Preparing For Court
- If you have children, make sure that you do not bring them to court as it is not allowed. You can hire a babysitter or if that is not possible, you can ask an adult to stay with the child outside of the courtroom.
- Make sure that you give yourself plenty of extra time to reach the court. Keep the rush hour in mind or the public transport schedule (if you travel by bus or train).
- Make sure that you have all the necessary documents and reports pertaining to your case with you, including the court notice document. It is always a good idea to keep copies of the documents in case you have to provide evidence.
- You will be going through the court security, so you have to be prepared for that. You should not be carrying any weapon or illegal items.
- Dress professionally and appropriately as it will leave a good impression on the judge.
- Since food and drinks are not allowed in the courtroom, make sure that you eat well before leaving for court as court hearings can take some time.