Going to court can be a frightening experience for the first time. If you are simply there for an uncontested matter, preparation is not necessary because the matters are routine. However, if you are going for a contested matter, that is a different story. One of the ways I advise my clients to prepare themselves is to go to court days in advance and watch how the judge handles other cases. Be comfortable with the physical location, the courtroom personnel, and the style of the judge, and then discuss what you observe with your lawyer to see how the judge might respond in your matter. You will be able to witness mistakes that people make that may irritate a judge and what the court might expect insofar as decorum is concerned. You should also familiarize yourself with all the documents in your case before going to court if you are expected to testify, so your memory will be refreshed. It is also a good idea to go over the questions that your lawyer will be asking you and any questions the opposing lawyer might ask you on cross-examination. Your lawyer should counsel you about how to handle cross-examination.
Donn C. Fullenweider practices family law in Houston with The Fullenwieder Firm. His skill as a negotiator and trial lawyer has been described in two books about his cases and several national magazines, including Town & Country, Harper’s Bazaar, and The National Law Journal.