Before You Get to Court

Review your documents carefully for the time, date and department of the
hearing or trial.  Court calendars  are posted online.
Please dress appropriately. In the courtroom, judges make decisions
which may significantly impact the lives of the parties involved. If your
attire is a distraction to others or diminishes the seriousness of the
proceedings, you may be asked to leave and to return to Court properly dressed. You may not wear clothing with obscene or offensive language.
Please plan to arrive at the Courthouse early. You may encounter delays
finding a parking space or at the security screening. If you are late,
the Court may call your case and make a decision before you arrive.
In addition, the Judge or the clerk often advises the audience about
courtroom procedures and the parties’ rights before calling the
first case. You may not hear these important advisements if you do not arrive on time.
Do not bring weapons into the courthouse. This includes knives of any
length, screwdrivers, etc. For more information about prohibited items, please see the Court's security policies.
While you are waiting for your hearing date, it is important to prepare
your case as thoroughly as you can. Double-check your facts.
Ask important witnesses to attend the hearing. Gather all of the evidence you think you may need. Prepare any needed charts or other exhibits. Decide what you will say to the judge.
On the day of your hearing, schedule enough time to get to the court,
allowing for possible transportation or parking delays. Try to arrive early so you can locate the proper courtroom.

Court Proceedings

There are three courtrooms or “Departments.”
If you are unsure, please check the posted calendars or with the Clerk's Office.

Enter the courtroom quietly, as court may already be in session.
Turn off your cell phone or other mobile device.
Do not bring any food or drink into the courtroom. It is not allowed.
There may be other cases set for hearing at the same time as yours.
Each case on the calendar will be heard by the judge.
The court will call roll to see which parties are present for their hearings.
Listen carefully so that you'll know what to do. Everyone who will participate in the hearings will be asked to take an oath promising to tell the truth.
The court will then hear each case. Cases are not always called in the
order listed on the court calendar, so be sure to stay in the courtroom.
When the judge is ready to hear your case, the clerk or judge will call the
names of all parties in the case. You, the other parties, and any witnesses, should then go forward to the table in front of the judge. Plaintiffs generally sit at the table to the right and defendants to the left.
You should address the judge as either, “Your Honor” or “Judge”.
Be brief in making your points. Do your best to be objective, unemotional,
polite, and respectful of the other party and the judge. Do not raise your voice or make insulting remarks about the other party or any witness, During the hearing, speak to the judge and not to the other party. Most importantly, be truthful in everything you say.
Do not interrupt the judge or the other party while they are talking.
All comments should be addressed to the judge. You should not engage
in a conversation with the other party while the judge hears your case.
If you have any papers, photographs or other evidence to show the judge,
you will typically have to show them to the other party first.
When it is your turn to show the court your evidence, do not approach the
judge’s bench unless specifically asked. The courtroom bailiff will usually take the evidence from you and hand it to the judge.

For More Information

Information about specific types of cases, such as Small Claims,
Landlord- Tenant or Family Law, can be found in the “Self-Help” section of the
California Courts website .
The Department of Consumer Affairs
The Small Claims Court: A Guide to its Practical Use

Preparing for Court

Courtroom Department 2