Etiquette for Criminal Matters (1:III)
A. Courtroom etiquette for law students
When a clinician attends court for a matter, he or she should check the court lists to confirm which courtroom the matter is to be heard in. If the court is not sitting at the time, the clinician should attempt to seek out the Crown Counsel who has conduct of the matter, and identify him or herself.
In order to get the client’s matter called clinicians should indicate to Crown Counsel or the Crown assistant that both client and counsel are present and ready to proceed. Crown Counsel will proceed with the shortest matters first; priority will also be given to matters for which the accused and their counsel are present. Do not interrupt Crown Counsel when they are addressing a matter.
When the judge enters or exits the court, the clinician should rise and bow to the judge.
If the court is sitting, the clinician should enter the courtroom, bow to the judge at the door and/or the bar of the court, and be seated at the chairs located beyond the bar.
When the matter is called, the clinician should rise and approach the counsel's table. The clinician should stand on the other side of the podium from the Crown. The rule of thumb is that Crown is seated next to the witness box while defence is seated furthest away.
The clinician should invite the client to come forward and address the court in a loud, clear voice, keeping in mind that the microphones in most courtrooms are only for recording and not for amplification purposes. The clinician should introduce himself or herself in the following manner:
"Your Honour. My name is <Full Name><Spell Out Last Name>, first initial. I am a law student with the UBC Law Students' Legal Advice Program, and with leave of the Court, representing Mr./Ms. _______________ who is here in the court today."
- Note: Judges are addressed as "Your Honour" in court while JPs are addressed as "Your Worship."
If there is a supervising lawyer present, they must be introduced as well at this time. The clinician should then remind the court what is to occur with the file (e.g. the matter is set for an arraignment hearing or disposition or trial, etc.).
Upon completion of the clinician’s appearance, on exiting the courtroom the clinician should turn and bow to the judge at the bar of the court and/or the door.
1. Interacting with Crown
When interacting with the Crown (or anyone else for that matter), students should always be pleasant and polite. They are people you may continue to work with for many years. There are times when students need to be more assertive but this should be done in a tactful way. Student should always respect the Crown, even when pointing out errors. Clinicians should be firm, but polite.
Etiquette & court room demeanor
- Be well groomed and well dressed. Men must wear a suit jacket (blazer), dress pants, and a tie; while women must wear a blazer and skirt or dress pants. Shoes (as with all attire) must be professional.
- Always act with professionalism & integrity. Never mislead the Court.
- Maintain an attitude of confidence, politeness, and courtesy to all court personnel and opposing counsel.
- Be punctual. Don't waste the Court's time.
- Address the court in a loud clear voice. Most microphones in the courtrooms are only for recording and not for amplification purposes.
- Always identify yourself as a student with LSLAP. Introduce yourself by stating your name for the record and spelling your surname. If you have a supervising lawyer present, always introduce them.
- Stand and bow when the judge enters or leaves the courtroom.
- Stand when addressing the Court, being addressed by the Court, objecting and responding to objections. Stand when (or if) your client is being sentenced or convicted.
- Sit when opposing counsel is speaking to the court, or interjects to make an objection.
- Stand on the other side of the podium from Crown Counsel and furthest away from the witness box.
- Be well prepared. Know the factual basis of your file, the applicable law and the relevant procedural rules. Part of being well prepared means being able to answer questions from the court.
- Pause briefly to consider your words and then respond.
- Address all remarks to opposing counsel through the Court.
- Don't quarrel with opposing counsel or the Court.
- Be respectful in your comments. In your dealings with the Court adopt a formal approach which reflects courtesy and respect for the authority of the court. Let the court know what you are doing with phrases such as "with your Honour's leave I would like to approach the witness to show him his statement."
- Don't interrupt the judge. Listen to what the judge says.