Once inside, you'll usually be seated in the audience, called the “gallery”, until your name is selected to be seated in the jury box.
|Here's a jury box in Ohio|
|Here's a jury box in Nebraska|
|Here's a jury box in Kansas|
|Here's a jury box in Texas|
If you're in court to attend a hearing on your own case, check the wall outside the courtroom door. You should find a list of the cases on calendar for that day, sometimes on a cork board and other times in a glass display case.
|This courthouse is in Arkansas|
Find your case name/number. Next to your case will be a calendar number. See there on the left? Remember that number. That's how you check in. At least, that's how you check in if you're in court in Southern California. For attorneys, we write the calendar number and the party we represent on our business card, or two cards if the courtroom has a court reporter.
In many courtrooms, the bailiff will ask you to sit on a specific side of the courtroom based on whether you are plaintiff or defendant in the case. Plaintiff's side is closest to the jury box. Sometimes there's even a placard on counsel table.
|This is the defense table|
Before you go inside the courtroom, TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE.
|Sometimes this is okay, other times not|
Fun cell phone anecdote #1: Usually the bailiff will give a speech before the judge comes out, informing everyone of the consequences of their phone making noise. Then the judge comes out and things proceed. One morning about 30 minutes after the judge came out, a phone rang.
From the front of the courtroom.
The judge grinned sheepishly, reached under his robe, retrieved his OWN PHONE, shut it off, and handed it to the bailiff.
Fun cell phone anecdote #2: I was waiting for a small claims trial to finish. The defendant didn't show up, so all the plaintiff had to do was prove his case and he would have judgment in his favor. During plaintiff's presentation, his cell phone rang. [This happened to me once, and I smacked my pocket to shut it off, then apologized profusely to the judge who still ordered the bailiff to take my phone until my hearing was finished. Now I usually put my phone on vibrate AND airplane mode before I even enter the courthouse.]
But this small claims plaintiff ANSWERED THE CALL. WHILE IN THE MIDDLE OF PRESENTING HIS CASE.
Everyone else in the courtroom was stunned. We sat there with our mouths hanging open, staring at this plaintiff, or at the judge, or at the bailiff, wondering what would happen.
The judge sat there patiently while the plaintiff concluded his call. No one moved. We may not have even been breathing. Once the call was finished, the judge said “that call must have been very important to you.” The plaintiff acknowledged that yes, it was a very important call, which is why he interrupted his trial to take it. He then thanked the judge for his consideration.
The judge responded “you now have a decision to make. Which is more important to you? This trial, or your phone? If you choose your phone, you can keep it and I'll grant judgment in favor of DEFENDANT. If you choose this trial, I'll grant judgment in YOUR favor but you'll have to surrender your phone until TOMORROW MORNING. Which do you choose?”
The man chose his phone and lost the case.
Turn off your phone.