Have you ever heard the phrase “The clothing makes the man?”
When you walk into a courthouse, there is a certain decorum that you are expected to follow. There's a certain respect that you must give the court and to the trial judge.
Bringing a lawsuit is a formal process. There are specific rules and regulations that attorneys must follow.
The judge controls how your trial proceeds. He decides what witnesses will be allowed to testify.
He decides what evidence will be admitted for the jury to evaluate.
When the judge comes into the courtroom, the court officer yells out that the judge is entering and everyone must rise to give the judge the proper respect he is entitled to. The same thing happens when the judge leaves the bench. Everyone in the courtroom rises to show proper respect.
Attorneys must be dressed properly when walking into a courtroom and addressing the judge. For a man, an attorney's uniform consists of a suit. Women tend to wear skirts or business suits.
I've heard judges berate lawyers who fail to come into court without a tie and jacket.
When you bring a lawsuit seeking compensation for all the harms, losses and damages you incur because of someone else's carelessness, six members of the community, the jury, are there to evaluate whether your claim is more likely true than not true.
They evaluate the evidence.
They evaluate your mannerisms. They evaluate how you dress. They evaluate how you communicate.
Don't get me wrong, no one is saying that you must come into court wearing a $2000 crushed silk suit or even a tuxedo. On the other end of the spectrum, you don't want to look as if you just came in off the street working at the mechanic's garage where you forgot to wash your hands and are wearing a dirty and torn T-shirt and overalls.
The impression you make on a jury makes a huge difference. The perception that the jury has of you is critical.
Your credibility is on the line. Your credibility is the key focus in the entire trial. If you do anything during the trial to destroy your credibility, you are significantly at risk for losing your case.
Some people reading this might think “What if the injured victim doesn't have money to buy nice clothes to wear to court?”
That's perfectly acceptable. However, there's a big difference between wearing a simple plain white button down shirt and a pair of slacks compared to a torn T-shirt and ripped jeans. You don't need to wear anything expensive to court.
If an injured victim typically enjoys wearing lots of jewelry, we strongly advise them not to wear any jewelry to court. Again, the key is not to have the jury distracted by your clothing or jewelry, but to pay attention to what you have to say.