People are often scared out of their wits when faced with having to go to court. They don’t know how to act or what to say when the judge asks them questions. Yes, it can make or break your case if you say the wrong thing, but you don’t need to speak legalese or be experienced in court.
Here are some general guidelines on what to say and do in court:
- If you are not in the process of formally presenting your case, don’t say ANYTHING unless the judge asks you a question.
- Don’t EVER interrupt the judge.
- Call the judge “Your Honor” if addressing the judge directly. At other times, you can refer to the judge as “Your Honor” or “the Court”.
- Stand when you are speaking.
- If the judge asks you to go out in the hall to discuss a settlement with the Plaintiff’s attorney, politely tell them you don’t want to settle. Insist on moving forward with the case, even if that means going to trial.
How to Answer Distressing Questions Truthfully, but in Your Favor
Judge: Is this your debt?
You: Your Honor, the Plaintiff has provided no proof of this debt. To the best of my knowledge and the evidence provided, this is not my debt.
Judge: Did you ever have a card with Bank A?
You: Yes, I did Your Honor, but to the best of my recollection, this card was paid off. In addition, the Plaintiff has provided no proof the debt is unpaid or even that this PARTICULAR debt is mine.
Plaintiff’s Attorney Introduction of Evidence
If the Plaintiff is a collection agency or junk debt buyer, object to anything the attorney says as hearsay. The attorney and the plaintiff do not have intimate knowledge of the creation of the debt.
- If the Plaintiff’s attorney shows anything that wasn’t included in the original summons/complaint package, or wasn’t provided in discovery, object on the basis that it wasn’t included in discovery and cannot now be submitted. You can also object if the evidence is not authenticated, meaning that the evidence cannot absolutely be substantiated as a true copy of an original document.
- If any evidence isn’t authenticated, object to it as hearsay. “Authenticated” means there is a letter from the issuing company stating that these are true copies of the original.
If you want an excellent example of what to say and what not to say to the judge in court, read one of our reader’s experiences in court. You’ll be glad you did!