This question can be trickier than you might think! While we all know a Judge should decide your case based on the merits, everyone subconsciously may judge us based on our appearance. It's important to make sure you know you are presenting appropriately to the Court so that it doesn't affect your case. Let's look at some scenarios and my suggestions as to what is appropriate to wear:
Appearing in Court in Person: When appearing in Court, it's important to make sure you look professional so that the Court knows you take your case seriously. Showing up to fight for your kids in a Hawaiian shirt (yes, this has happened!) may not be the best idea! Here are my suggestions:
Clothing - While you don't necessarily have to wear a suit, you should consider wearing a professional button down shirt, blouse, or collared shirt. Shorts and short skirts are not appropriate. Skirts should be past the knee if worn. Pants should be NOT be jeans.
Hair - Your hair should be neat and out of your face with no loud hair clips or scrunchies. Unnaturally colored hair should be styled conservatively if not avoided for Court appearances.
Jewelry - Jewelry should be neutral and silent (no clacking necklaces or bracelets).
Appearing in Court via Zoom technology: This is a new one! When appearing in Court via video, we not only need to watch what we wear, but also how our background appears! Let's look at some suggestions:
Where? I suggest you do your zoom appearance against a neutral wall sitting in a chair. Please don't sit on your bed or in your car, this does not promote a put together appearance. Make sure if there is any background, it is neat and tidy.
Lighting - Don't sit in front of a window! The Court must be able to identify you and you will not show up if you are against a window. Lighting should be neutral and natural.
Who? While it may be tempting to have your support person there with you, remember, this is a formal court proceeding. Just like in Court, the only person that can sit with you is your attorney. Please don't try to fool the Court by having a person standing behind or outside of the camera view, it is very obvious when someone does this, you will not fool the Judge.
Witnesses - IF this is a hearing that will have witnesses (check with your attorney), your witnesses need to be "sequestered" or kept separate from you and not able to hear the court proceeding. When it is time to call them to speak, they will need to call or login from a separate location. If they try to login near you, there will be an echo.
Kids/Pets - Make sure your children are nowhere near your hearing. On rare occasions, children may speak to a Judge, but this is always done separately, don't have your kids there. Make sure your pets are safely somewhere else in the house.
Above all, remember that even if you're appearing from home, treat Zoom as going to Court, the same rules apply to clothing as appearing in person.
Bankruptcy Court: All of the above is true for bankruptcy Court with the emphasis that appearing for your bankruptcy hearing is not the time to show off.
Attorney Allison Greenlee Korr handles cases in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and all surrounding counties, call today for a consultation. 269-381-4471