If your case will be going to court, here is a list of guidelines that will be to your benefit:
1. Know the exact location of the court and give yourself ample time to arrive at the courthouse no later than fifteen minutes prior to the hearing. If you have a computer or access to a smart phone, you may want to GPS/use Google Maps for directions to the courthouse. Be aware that most courts have metal detectors and you are not allowed to bring cell phones into the courthouse.
2. Under no circumstances should you be late for court. The courts operate on very strict schedules and judges tend to be extremely intolerant of anyone who does not respect their schedule and inconveniences them, the other attorney, the other party, court personnel, etc.
3. Dress very respectfully. You should dress in formal business attire. There should be no gym shoes, jeans, facial hair, visible tattoos, low cut tops, too short skirts, wrinkled shirts, conspicuous or “loud” jewelry or belts, sandals, t-shirts, or any other type of gym, beach, or casual clothing. If you are in the military you should wear your dress uniform. A suit and tie is preferred for men and a skirt/trousers and blouse or dress for women.
4. Under no circumstances should you “express yourself” in a courtroom. You should never talk, groan, roll your eyes, jump out of your chair, use profanity or argue with a judge, the other party, or attorneys. It is our experience that a judge gives the least credibility to whomever is the most emotional in a courtroom.
5. Come to court with any documents that might be needed in an organized, labeled folder so that you can locate them quickly. Be familiar with the documents that have been filed with the court, such as a budget sheet and numbers contained therein. Be prepared to be questioned about all of the documents by the judge or the other attorney.
6. When responding to questions, your answer should be short and definite. It should never appear that you have not carefully determined what you would like the court to do for you and why or cannot remember the facts of your case.
7. You cannot testify as to what you heard someone else say or write. That is “hearsay” and will not be allowed by a judge. While there are exceptions which allow hearsay evidence, rely on your experienced counsel to advise what you can and cannot say.
8. Listen to your lawyers. They are advising you to be quiet or to answer a question a specific way for a reason. You have paid them money for this advice and they are trained to ensure you receive the best result.
9. Virginia Small Claims Court Procedures – We have attached a PDF explaining Virginia Small Claims Court proceedings (how to file, etc.), for claims under $5,000.00
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Newport News, VA 23607
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Newport News, VA 23607