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Revised November 9, 2012
Attorneys should stand while addressing the court or jury, except where
voicing an objection or making a statement of only a few words.
Attorneys should maintain a substantial distance between
themselves and witnesses whom they are examining in order to
maintain the voice level of both witness and attorney, to avoid
intimidation of the witness and to avoid a tendency toward undue
informality. It is proper to approach witnesses who are hard of
hearing or when handling exhibits or when questioning concerning
a map or diagram.
Attorneys during trial should avoid exhibiting familiarity
with witnesses, jurors, or opposing counsel. Jurors and opposing
counsel should never be referred to by their first names, and
only when a witness is a youngster, or with permission of court,
may a witness be addressed by his first name.
Attorneys should be impersonal toward the court and should
address the court in the third person, as "the court will
remember the testimony" and not, "You will remember". When the
judge is on the bench he should be addressed as "Your Honor" and
not as "You."
When objection is made to a question asked by a trial attorney
he should refrain from asking the witness another question until
the court has had an opportunity to rule upon the objection.
All objections and arguments should be made to the court
rather than to opposing counsel. Bickering between counsel
during the course of a trial is impermissible.
After an objection has been argued and the court has
announced its decision, counsel should accept the decision and
should not make further comment or argument, unless upon request
the court permits counsel to reopen the argument.
Before beginning an opening statement or a closing argument
counsel should first address the court by saying, "May it please
the Court" or similar words and acknowledging his opposing
colleague by saying, "Mr.______________".
A male attorney appearing in court should be dressed with a
coat, shirt and tie. A female attorney should use comparably
An attorney desiring a sidebar conference should first
obtain leave of court before approaching the bench.
All attorneys who hold or have held titles such as judge,
colonel, senator, etc. may not use such titles nor should they
be referred to by these titles while in the courtroom.
When a trial is in progress or about to begin, attorneys
should not permit their clients or witnesses to use the judge's
office waiting room; rather, a jury room or other witness room
should be used in order to avoid any appearance of familiarity
or acquaintanceship between the court and one party or witness.
Exhibits should be numbered in advance of their use in
trial. Similarly, diagrams of the scene of an accident or
incident should be prepared in advance and not from the witness
Attorneys should anticipate the major legal issues which will
arise during a trial and should present them to the court at the
pre-trial conference, or in any event, at an early time in order
that arguments and decision can be made without using jury time.
Sidebar conferences disrupt the orderly flow of the trial
and are distracting to a jury. The judge cannot ordinarily know
in advance whether a requested sidebar conference is necessary,
and so the burden must rest upon counsel to make very limited
use of the request for sidebar conference.
A trial attorney, like the English barrister, should take
professional pride that his questions are rarely objectionable
and his objections are seldom questionable.
Counsel should not thank the court for a favorable ruling,
or the jury for a favorable verdict.
Where avoidable, police officers appearing as witnesses should not appear in uniform.