This is the third in a series of articles on going pro se in Wake County Family Court in Raleigh, NC. In Part 1 I gave a general outline. In Part 2, we focused on the Wake County Local Rules. In Part 3 I will cover basic courtroom decorum and procedures that a person who is representing himself or herself should follow.
- Confirm in advance that your case is on the court calendar. You can check here.
- Dress appropriately.
- Know the law on the issues you have before the court. For example, if your issues is child suport, your can review the statutes and do interent research.
- Be on time. The calendar call from most family court cases in Wake County is 9:00AM. Give yourself time to find parking in downtown Raleigh and to make your way through security in the courthouse and onto the elevator.
- If you can not be on time for court or some emergency arises, try to call or contact the case coordinator for the judge assigned to your case. Do this before court; do not wait or delay.
- Turn your cell phone off once you get in the courtroom.
- Stand up when your name is called. Answer clearly and advise the court of any issues with your availability for the hearing. It’s best not to complain to the judge about your work schedule… everyone in court is missing work.
- If you have a motion related to the hearing or trial going forward that you want to make, such as to continue the case, mention it when the judge first calls your case on the court’s calendar.
- When your case is called take a seat with your paperwork at one of the tables. You are not allowed to bring a friend or family member to the table with you unless that person is a lawyer.
- If you have any friends, witnesses or family in the courtroom on your behalf, tell them in advance that they are not to speak up in the courtroom or cause any disturbance. Explain to them that their opportunity to tell their side of the facts will be on the witness stand.
- Bring several copies of any documents you want to try to get into evidence.
- Do not argue with the other party.
- When it is your turn to ask the other party or a witness questions, it is best to make the questions short and clear. Make sure to ask questions of witnesses and not make statements.
- A hearing has a set routine and procedure.
- When an objection si made wait for the judge to rule on the objection before proceeding.
- Take notes when the judge issues the ruling. If you need clarification, it’s best to ask while still in the courtroom It does little good to argue with a judge about a ruling and it is better to ask questions and seek clarification.
Scott Allen is a divorce attorney in Raleigh, NC with over eighteen years of experience in all areas of family law litigation and settlement.