By Jedidiah McKeehan
As an attorney, I occasionally forget some of the most basic things about going to court and being involved in a legal proceeding. Most people have never had to go to court, or even had to contact an attorney, which is a good thing.
One of the things that people ask me about it is where they sit in a courtroom. Or, where they sit and wait to meet me prior to court beginning. Things like this seem mundane, but they are actually important.
If you have never been to court, then you will not know that it is always good to get there early.
It is not often easy to find parking and walk to the courthouse. Then, after that, the line can often be long to get through the metal detector to enter the courthouse. Then, some courthouses will not allow you to bring your cellphone in the courthouse, and you will have to go take your cellphone back to your car.
After that, you will have to figure out what courtroom you are in, if you do not know. Then, after that, you will have to enter the courtroom, with your phone turned off, your hat off, and wearing pants, not shorts.
Thinking about all those things, it might take you longer than you thought to get to where you need to go on the morning of court, especially if your attorney has told you to get there early so that you all can discuss your case prior to court beginning.
As far as where to actually sit in the courtroom, no one except attorneys are allowed to go past the “bar.”
If you are attending criminal court, some areas are designated solely for inmates, and some areas are designated solely for victims of crimes.
In civil court, it is always nice to get there early so your seating restrictions are not limited and you do not end up sitting next to the party with whom you have a case against.
When your case is called up some judges will have you sit down at the tables before the case begins. Some judges do not care at what table you sit. Other judges require that the Plaintiff sit at the table closest to the jury box, and the Defendant sit at the table further away from the jury box.
Judges in minor courts simply request that the parties to a case approach the “bench” where the judge sits.
Again, it is important to note that there are more nuances to getting to court on time than you may think.
Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.