How to: Talk to a Judge:
Visiting a court can be an intimidating experience.
This ‘How to’ is designed to assist you in learning how to talk to judges, lawyers, court staff and other people whom you may meet when visiting a court in Australia.
The video will assist you in learning more about appropriate behaviour in court.
Talking to a Judge
Ben Watson, a criminal lawyer from Johnstone and Reimer Lawyers says the following about talking to a judge in court:
Say good morning your honour or good afternoon your honour before speaking. Don’t ask how they are going! Sit when someone is speaking to you, and stand when speaking to someone
another Australian lawyer says:
In court: I always say “if it please the court my name is …”… Outside of court, always say “judge” or “your honour”
Students and members of the public should always address a judge as ‘Your Honour’ or ‘Judge’.
Sometime judges will directly question or talk to students visiting their court. When answering their questions or talking to them it is important to stand up and speak in a clear voice. If you are answering their question, start your reply with ‘Your Honour’ or ‘Judge’, do not interrupt the judge or talk over the top of them as it is disrespectful.
Lawyers can be addressed by their surname and appropriate title, Mr/Ms/Dr followed by their surname.
Some barristers (learn more about the difference between solicitors and barristers here) prefer to be addressed by their surname only.
Judges and lawyers are usually very friendly and approachable and they love speaking to students. They see it as an important part of their job to educate young people about the legal system and courts. There is no need to be nervous or worried about meeting a judge or lawyer.
Courts have special rules that may seem confusing and are very different from most situations in modern Australian life. The most important thing to remember is that court staff are able to assist if you feel unsure about what the appropriate behaviour is in the court you are visiting.
The list on the right sets out the key things you need to keep in mind when visiting a court in Australia.
For further detail read this guide from the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Visiting a Court
- Turn off your mobile phone and do not use it at anytime in the court building
- Wear appropriate, neat and conservative clothing
- Be ready to go through security screening – it is like an airport
- Remember that you are in workplace where people are doing a difficult and stressful job
- Be respectful, kind and thoughtful to the people in the court, they may be having a very bad day
- Remember to bow when you enter and exit the court (when it is in session) – make sure you bow to the coat of arms above the judge
- Be quiet when sitting in the back of the court observing cases
- Follow all directions from court staff