What to Expect in Court
Courtrooms vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in their physical appearance. Some courts still use hundred year old buildings with formal wood paneling. Other more modern and recently built courtrooms have updated technology and new construction. There is usually seating in the back of the room for the public or anyone who is there to watch the proceedings. The judge generally sits on a raised stand at the back of courtroom facing the audience. Facing the Judge’s stand are at least two tables – one for each party; the petitioner or plaintiff and the respondent or defendant and their respective lawyers. A court reporter usually sits between the judge’s bench and the lawyer tables.
Some cases are held in front of a judge only, while others are heard by a jury with a judge present. Other courtroom staff normally includes a bailiff, a court reporter, and a court clerk. The bailiff is an armed officer who generally stands in close proximity to the judge’s bench.
Experts and witnesses usually wait in the public seating area in the back of the courtroom until they are called upon to testify. You may be asked by the judge or the attorney who subpoenaed you to court to wait outside in the hallway until you are called to testify. It will just depend on the circumstances of the particular case as to whether you are permitted to listen to other witnesses’ testimony.
Attorneys generally do their best to not keep you away from your work as much as they possibly can and will usually give you an estimated time to report to court to testify. However, you will need to be prepared to be flexible on that day because there are many reasons the process does not always move as quickly as originally planned.