If you’ve never been in court before, your first court appearance can be overwhelming.

When you’re thrown into new surroundings and under high amounts of stress, it can be helpful to have what is required of you spelled out very clearly and simply so that you can successfully manage this difficult time in your life.

One common question we receive from clients who are new to court proceedings is “How do I address the judge?”

In order to give you one less thing to worry about, and to give you better chances at being received favorably in court, we’ve come up with some answers to how to address a judge.

Terms of Address

It is a good idea to speak to the courtroom staff to ascertain what the particular judge who will be hearing your case prefers to be called. Some judges are more formal, while others are very lax concerning the traditional forms of address.

When this is impossible, then simply revert to the standard form of address for a judge, which is, “your honor.”

You should precede all of your answers and questions directed to the judge with “your honor.” This shows respect not only for the judge, but also for the court proceeding as a whole.

Methods of Speaking

It is very important not only to address the judge properly, but also to conduct yourself appropriately in multiple ways while in the courtroom. The most important idea to keep in mind as you navigate your way through your first court appearance is that of respect.

Everything about your manner of dress, the way you address the judge and the other members of the court, and the way you behave in court should be done respectfully, and should show the judge that you are taking this proceeding seriously.

Here’s a list of good rules to follow while in the courtroom:


Rules to Follow

  • Arrive early
  • Speak only when spoken to
  • Stand whenever you are speaking
  • Make eye contact
  • Address members of the court as “sir” and “ma’am”
  • Be polite
  • Speak calmly
And here’s a list of things to avoid:

Things to Avoid

  • Don’t gesticulate
  • Don’t use slang words or foul language
  • Don’t lose your temper
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Don’t eat, drink, or chew gum or tobacco
  • Don’t talk or laugh


The most important thing to keep in mind is that you must behave respectfully at all times throughout the court proceedings. Be calm, cool, and collected, and use the proper address when you speak to the judge.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.

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