In Indiana, the Courts are open to the public. It is not required that a person have an attorney to go to Court, however, you are encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney to make sure you are doing the right thing. Should you choose to represent yourself, you must be prepared. The Court, court staff, Clerk or clerk staff cannot give you legal advice. You must contact an attorney for legal advice.
Things to do before your court date
1. Read over all of your court documents. Be familiar with all the documents that you and the other side have filed with the court.
2. All parties in a court action must be given proper notice of all pending matters and hearings. A copy of any document or piece of information that you want to file with the court must be delivered to the other side.
3. Do your homework on the law that applies to your type of case. You need to be prepared “legally” for court. You will be required to follow the same rules and procedures that an attorney must follow.
4. Decide who you want to testify in court on your behalf. Remember, you cannot tell the judge what someone else said. That is hearsay and is inadmissible. You must have that person present to testify.
5. Write out your questions in advance. Go over your questions with your witnesses. This will prepare both you and them for the actual hearing. 6. Create an outline or a brief summary of your side of the case.
Things to do the day of your court date
1. You need to know your case number. The court staff and Clerk’s staff need to know your number to find your case.
2. When you come to Court, bring the original and two copies of any item you would like to admit into evidence. One is for you, one is for the other side, and one is to file with the Court. The Court will keep any item offered into evidence regardless of whether it is admitted or not.
3. You should dress appropriately when going to court. This means no t-shirts, jeans with holes in them, halter tops, baseball hats, or sweatpants. Dress as if you were going to church. This shows respect for the Judge, other parties, and court staff.
4. Be respectful to everyone. Call the Judge “Your Honor”. It is extremely important that you remain calm at all times and refrain from arguing with anyone. Everyone will get an opportunity to tell their side of the story. Be polite and wait for your turn.
5. Arrive a few minutes early for your hearing and make sure you sign in so that the court is aware that you have appeared.
6. Keep your guests to a minimum. The courtroom is a small room. Too many guests who have no involvement in your case can cause distractions for everybody. Try not to bring your children to court. The court proceedings are recorded and it is important that everyone who is not testifying remain quiet.
7. When asking your witnesses questions, always start by asking them their name and address. If their job is important to your case, ask them what their occupation is, what their educational degrees are, and how long they have been doing their job.
8. You have the right to ask the other side and their witnesses questions during the hearing. You should never ask a question which you do not know what the answer will be. This could hurt your case more than help it.
Give yourself plenty of extra time to get to the Courthouse. It is very important that you arrive on time. Weapons are not permitted at any time. Cell phones and beepers must be turned off.
If you need any special arrangements in regards to disabilities or special needs, call ahead to the office you need to visit. By making arrangements related to speech and hearing disabilities, vision problems, handicap accessibility, or language barriers, you can ensure that you will receive the best service possible.