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What Should I Bring to Court?

Speeding ticket

A man steps in front of a judge to challenge a traffic ticket he received. When asked for the traffic ticket in question, he doesn’t have the original, or any copies. He says at the time of the violation in question, he was speeding through the intersection because his wife was in labour. “Fine”, the judge says “Can I see the birth certificate?”. The man can’t produce it, because he didn’t think to bring it along. The case does not seem to be going well so far; our good gentleman was unprepared.

Preparation is thus key to a successful day in court, so there are a few things you should remember to bring along. It’s essential to bring originals of any documents that are relevant to your case, as well as a couple of copies for the court’s use. Relevant items might include, but are not limited to, cheques, contracts, photos, tickets and written estimates.

Written notes are also important to bring along to your court appearance; these can help you to remember how you want to make your case, or particular talking points that you want to bring up. An eloquent case is a case well-made, so rehearsing your notes before appearing and memorizing key points can be helpful, with your written notes serving for when nerves get the better of you.

A good outfit is essential to bring to court; this informs the court’s first impression of you, and if you are dressed well, it shows you care about the dignity of the court and legal proceedings. Dressing too showy is ill-advised; opt for more muted colours in order to look natural in a courtroom. When appearing as a defendant, avoid dark black as the colour can be seen as domineering; think of Lex Luthor’s penchant for dark black suits and it’s easy to see why it can be a problem.

Difficulties communicating can be mitigated by bringing interpreters to the court with you. English may not be your first language, and translators can be used to help make your case. Sign language interpreters and audio aids can also be brought to court for those who are hard of hearing, and those who have speech impediments.

Witnesses can be used in court as well, which can be especially useful when there is contention about how events played out. Witnesses may appear in court with you, or they may submit a written statement to the court. At times, an expert witness can be helpful to your case. A doctor might act as an expert witness to explain why a medical condition hampered your decision-making ability.

A lawyer is the best tool you can bring with you to court; lawyers understand court-proceedings, and are experts at making a good case. Occasionally, the lawyer you hired to make your case may be unavailable on the court date; attorneys are people too, and family emergencies and other sudden problems can impede their ability to appear. Fortunately, there are qualified court appearance attorneys who can help you if your personal attorney is unavailable.