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What to Expect When You Enter a Courtroom

October 4, 2019

Client talking to criminal defense attorney discussing legal options.

We understand that going to court can be a stressful affair. And although this is the case (no pun intended) we’d like to help ease you through the courtroom process. Here, we’ve provided some information on what to expect, and what’s expected of you, when you go to court.

To start off, a little bit of background information on the judicial system in Tennessee:

Tennessee’s 95 counties are divided into 31 judicial districts. Within each district, there are Circuit Courts (dealing with common law) and Chancery Courts (dealing with issues of equity), as provided by the state constitution. Some districts also have legislatively established Criminal Courts and Probate Courts (issues of wills, estates, guardianships, etc.). Judges of these courts are elected to 8-year terms.

To get a clearer picture of the Judicial System in Rutherford County, refer to the Tennessee Judicial District Map, which provides information on County Judges and County Clerks.

Etiquette in the Courtroom

Before you enter the courthouse it’s important to know what’s expected of you in terms of dress and behavior. Below we’ll look at how to present yourself, what’s prohibited, and some customs to follow while in court.

Courtroom Dress

When going to court, your best suit and tie or gown can stay at home. While there’s no need to dress to the nines, be sure to look neat and professional. It’s asked that you refrain from wearing flip-flops, hats, and sunglasses; save for the beach.

Courtroom Behavior

The following things are not permitted in the courtroom:

  • Talking
  • Smoking
  • Eating
  • Chewing gum

Aside from these behaviors, the use of video cameras, tape-recorders, and any other electronic equipment is prohibited. It is asked that you turn off your cell phone or any other electronic device that has the ability to make noise and cause a distraction.

Common Practices

If you’re a defendant, your court etiquette begins from the moment you enter the courthouse. When entering a courtroom, it is customary to pause briefly at the door and bow your head towards the Coat of Arms located behind the judicial officer. This is done as a sign of respect towards the laws of the land, the court, and its judiciary. The same should be done when you exit the courtroom.  

As a defendant, you should stand whenever the judge or commissioner is speaking to you, and when you are speaking to them. It’s important that you follow directions and pay attention. Be cooperative and avoid hostility.

Contact a Wilson County TN Attorney

Going to court soon? Prepare yourself and contact Hagar and Phillips for the legal representation you need. Use our Contact Form or call us at 615-784-4588. 


The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.