I went to court last week for a hearing. I have been to court before – maybe 10 times – but every time, I am terrified. I break out in a cold sweat and my knees start to shake. I try to hide them behind the podium but I think everyone can see. What to do???
Curing the cold sweats is easy. Wear a sports headband. I recommend Silver and Black for the Raiders if you are appearing in front of Judge Delbert Gee. For any other judges, Blue and Gold for the Warriors is probably the safest choice.
The shaking knees are a little more problematic. Wearing something that covers down to the ankles is probably wise. I would recommend a simple black robe, but some judicial officers wouldn’t want you to compete with their fashion statements. So, depending on your physique and your fashionista preferences, how about a sophisticated caftan, or maybe a timeless muu muu?
As an alternative, bungee cords might do the trick, but you have to worry about them snapping under pressure and hitting opposing counsel (or the court clerk) in the eye. If worst comes to worst, there is a two word answer that solves almost any problem…duct tape!
But before you go shopping, how about sitting in on a few hearings in your judicial officer’s department in advance of your court appearance? Knowing how the judge conducts business in his/her courtroom should help you feel less nervous when your turn comes. Also, before your hearing, perhaps you can have an attorney colleague play the part of the judge and conduct a mock hearing so you’ll feel more confident about your preparation. If you can’t arrange that, at least you can articulate your arguments to your secretary or your significant other or even to a mirror so that you’ll be a little less nervous when it’s your turn on the big stage.
“Dear Commish” will appear in the ACBA Newsletter from time to time. The “Commish” is retired Commissioner Glenn Oleon, who served on the Alameda County Superior Court from 2003 to 2013. Commissioner Oleon now serves as a mediator and Private Judge in family law and other cases through ADR Services, Inc. Do you have a question for “Dear Commish”? Send questions into firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be reached through www.adrservices.org or by email at email@example.com.