How to Succeed with a Court Case
Most people have not been involved in a court case before. When they become involved in one, though, they are often anxious and overwhelmed with the process. They make mistakes that often make their case worse or cause them to lose their case completely even though the merits are in their favor. One very easy thing to do to be successful in a court case -- whatever your role in it may be -- is to be disciplined in your actions.
Practically-speaking, what that amounts to is this: one very easy way to be successful in a court case (e.g. getting on the judge's good side, not tearing your hair out, etc) is to follow directions. For instance, if you have a case in Superior Court (e.g. criminal case, family law case, etc), you often will have tasks you need to do. A task could be to fill out and file forms by a certain date, it could be to take a class for a certain number of weeks, or it could be as simple as showing up at a court hearing at a given date and time. In any other context, these tasks would be extremely simple. For instance, just put the hearing date and time on your calendar or just ask where to get the form and where to file it.
Many people, however, don't complete these tasks when it comes to their court case. These tasks are important because they are often required by law. In a drunk driving case, for example, the law generally requires completion of a DUI school of some kind. These tasks may also be needed to allow for other tasks to be completed later on (e.g. the form you need to fill out is used for other things later on in your case). By not filling out the form or showing up for the court hearing, the overall process the court expects doesn't work. When things in court don't work, the judge can get upset. I'm going to hazard a guess here that making the judge upset is not going to help you with your case.
There's three things you can do in this regard:
- First, as mentioned above, maintain some sort of calendar. If you already keep a calendar for school, work, or family activities, this should be no big deal. If you have to show up for court on a given day and time, just put that on your calendar and go. By showing up for court when you're supposed to, you can avoid more problems like a bench warrant or an Order to Show Cause hearing. If you're not in the habit of keeping a calendar, you need to find some way to remind yourself of important dates where the court will expect you to be present. This could be as simple as writing in on a calendar that hangs on your wall.
- Second, if you're given tasks that you have to do (e.g. fill out X form and file it with Y person by Z date), write it down. Most things in court are only discussed orally. Some stuff is presented in a handout or brochure, but even then, it's not going to be a checklist of what tasks you need to do when in what order. That checklist is what I think you neeed to prepare for yourself.
- Finally, on a related point to checklists, court is not an environment that rewards you for being passive. The goal in a court case is generally going to be to win, but there is no formula or established regiment of how to actually accomplish that. A checklist is tremendously helpful to have, but it is even more helpful to have the initiative and ideas needed to be able to come up with the checklist in the first place.
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