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    Behaviour (& Misbehaviour) In The Courtroom

    At Ryan Murdoch O’Regan Lawyers, we have seen many unique and interesting situations take place in the courtroom.These situations often occur while we are waiting for one of our clients’ cases to be heard.

    Some interesting behaviours include:

    • A man who lost his licence for speeding told the magistrate to “go and get ****ed”, followed by him running out of the courtroom, followed shortly thereafter by the sound of a car doing a burnout in the car park outside and speeding away.
    • It is quite common for self-represented litigants to call judges “Your Majesty;” “Your Highness,” etc.
    • Litigants using the ‘Magna Carta’ argument used, which is a favourite source of legal authority quoted by some self-represented litigants, who like to allege that the Australian system of government, Australian currency, taxation laws etc. are unconstitutional and therefore do not need to be followed.
    • In the Cleveland Magistrates Court, two random people waiting in court stood up, referred to the Magna Carta, tried to dismiss their own friend’s charges, and then attempted to arrest the magistrate for “impersonating a public servant,” before they themselves were arrested in the courtroom.
    • A defendant was appearing by video link in handcuffs and in a cell. The Magistrate had agreed that the individual would be released and was just checking something administrative when the following dialogue occurred:

    Defendant: “Your Honour, I said I was pleading guilty.”
    Magistrate: “Yes I know. We are just checking something. Please just be patient.”
    Defendant: “That’s easy for you to say. I am the one sitting in this corrugated sh**hole.” (He then decided to drag the handcuffs against the side wall and stand up on the table.)
    Magistrate: “Please just bear with us.”
    Defendant: “In my opinion if you cannot make up your mind you should not have become a judge.”
    Magistrate: (Addressing his clerk) “Can you please see if you can put that on mute?”
    Defendant: (His mouth continued to move but unfortunately he had been muted.)

    The Right Advice

    Our advice for anyone appearing in court would be to remember the following basic principles.

    Dress Code

    While dressing appropriately might contradict your fashion principles, remember that exerting your right to wear what you want is fine, but we do not live in a perfect world, and justice – while noble in theory, is administered within a system that ultimately reflects society with all its foibles.

    In short, life is not always fair.Plaintiffs and defendants should wear respectable clothing and take the advice of their lawyer who deals with the courts regularly and knows the ‘personality’ of the court.Taking a pragmatic approach to your appearance indicates respect for the judicial officer (the judge or magistrate) and for the court process.

    Address the judge as ‘Your Honour,’ or, if you cannot remember this, refer to them as ‘judge,’ ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ and ask in a respectful manner the appropriate way that they should be addressed.If entering or exiting the courtroom and the judge is present, it is customary to bow one’s head in the direction of the judge as a sign of respect.The judge does not walk around the street with lawyers or the public repeatedly and reverently bowing their heads.However, in the courtroom, a bow upon the judge’s entry and exit is a sign of respect for the judge’s role of administering justice and making decisions within the judicial system in accordance with the law.

    Mobile Phones

    Mobile phones should always be switched off, or at the very least placed on silent, with no telephone calls being made or received in the courtroom.

    Physical Threats & Intimidation

    No person in the court should ever attempt to show physical intimidation to anyone, much less feel that some sort of Magna Carta justification warrants an arrest of anyone.Ordinarily if the police were to charge a person for intimidation or any other crazy, swearing behaviour, this would happen in process of time.However, such behaviour in front of a judge skips the ‘middle man,’ and will cause a whole world of unnecessary anguish as a judge will not tolerate this behaviour, especially since a judge spends long hours hearing cases and does not have the time for such disruptions.

    Etiquette

    Never interrupt a judge when they are speaking.If this is done accidentally, offer an apology at the first available opportunity after the judge has stopped speaking and the court allows an opportunity to speak.Talking over each other in the court, aside from being considered to show a lack of respect, should not occur for a very practical reason.The court records all audio for transcript purposes and if there are people talking over each other, it makes it very difficult to transcribe the dialogue into a coherent transcript.

    Did anyone really win as a toddler by back-chatting to their parent?If you did, the judge isn’t your parent and it will only evoke a reaction of ‘I’m not going to reward bad behaviour!’Remember the key is to have a judge feeling neutral and inclined to want to listen to your well-thought-out legal arguments.The more insightful and well-mannered the judge considers a person, the better are your chances of having the judge accept your arguments.If you are respectful then there is a greater likelihood that your argument or reasoning will gain the respect of the judge.This is true in life, and the courts are a reflection of life with its many variables.

    Leaving The Courtroom Unexpectedly

    A lawyer or self-representing litigant who is meant to be presenting to the judge should never just walk out, without first requesting permission to do so from the judge.The courtroom is the judge’s domain and he/she is in charge.A person might think that they are ‘top honcho’ in their own world, however in the court it is a whole different world.The man or woman who is sitting in the judge’s seat is in control, and his/her role is to make decisions with potential consequences such as jail and loss of freedom, bankruptcy, financial compensation etc.A judge never appreciates deliberately ignorant or obnoxious individuals. Remember when in doubt, ask!

    The Best Approach

    Our best advice when dealing with the courts is to have patience.Sometimes, like in any government organisation, it may feel as though the system is operating slower than you desire.A person appearing before a court has one goal.That is to obtain the best possible result given the circumstances.

    That is the role of Ryan Murdoch O’Regan Lawyers.The circumstances necessarily guide the proceedings and we will do whatever is feasible to either win the argument for you or minimise the damage if a win is not viable in the particular circumstances.You must work with and not against the system.

    How We Can Help

    Ryan Murdoch O’Regan is a general law practice which is organised into teams of highly specialised experts in each of our areas of law.Our practice area teams are committed to focussing on their area of law to ensure you always have the expertise that you need.

    And, unlike some other firms – who focus on only one area of law, we can offer expert solutions for all legal areas, without the need for you to search around, and can provide reliable and professional representation in all court proceedings.

    As a client, you can have confidence that whatever problem you may encounter in any area of law, our teams in all our practice areas will work to obtain the best possible outcome for you.

    Contact Us

    Get the best representation. Contact Ryan Murdoch O’Regan Lawyers on 1800 999 529, email mail@rmolaw.com.au, or submit an enquiry below.

    We are available to meet with you at any of our local offices (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Beenleigh, Cleveland and Jimboomba) or by telephone or video-conference.

    This article is for your information and interest only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and it does not constitute and must not be relied on as legal advice. You must seek specific advice tailored to your circumstances.

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