Courtrooms and court processes are quite formal. It’s common for people who are not lawyers or court staff to be confused by court procedure. It’s helpful to know a bit about what happens in the courtroom before you go.
Two principles are very important:
1.That courts are open to the public, and
2.That the work of the court goes ahead without disruption.
The following guidelines help to make sure that these important principles are maintained. Visitors to court must be respectful of other users of the court, including witnesses, victims and victims’ families. Always follow instructions given by the judge, the court clerk or security staff.
In the court house:
- Only accredited media representatives can use recording devices such as tape recorders inside the court house.
- Cameras are not allowed inside the court house unless it is a ceremonial occasion, such as the swearing-in of a new judge. School groups that visit the court house may be allowed to take photos in empty courtrooms, but need to talk to the person arranging the tour for information.
In the courtroom:
- The majority of trials and other hearings are open to the public.
- Hats must be taken off while in the courtroom.
- Ensure cell phones are turned off when you go into a courtroom. Accredited members of the media who use their cell phones or other devices for text messaging must display their media cards and are reminded that such use must not be disruptive to any courtroom or office.
- Eating and drinking is not allowed in a courtroom.
- Large bags and parcels must be left outside the courtroom.
- Observers must remain quiet and not disturb the court.
- Leaving or entering the courtroom while court is in session is allowed, but must be done quietly.
- Be respectful to the judge, court staff, lawyers and witnesses.
- The clerk will announce the opening (and closing) of court, asking everyone to stand while the judge enters (and later exits) the courtroom. Remain standing until the judge is seated, or until he or she has left the courtroom.