The Civil Court System
COURTROOM DO'S AND DON'TS
Going to Family Court with Your Children?- Children can be confused or upset about going to court. The Family Services Program of the Administrative Office of the Courts has developed a free booklet called, "My Day at Court Guide and Activity Book for Kids Going to Court in Maryland". The book contains stickers, pages to color and clear explanations of the people, words and work of the courts. Ask the Court for a copy.
How to Dress for Court
Do dress as you would for an important event.
Don't wear t-shirts with messages.
Don't dress down to gain sympathy.
Don't chew gum.
Your Courtroom Behavior
Do exercise self control, no matter what is said in the courtroom.
Do be on time for court.
Don't react to the answers of witnesses to the questions from the opposing attorney to indicate your displeasure.
Don't argue with the opposing party or his/her attorney.
When you are Testifying
Do listen to the entire question being asked before you answer.
Do ask the questioner to repeat or clarify any questions that you do not understand.
Do direct your answers to the person who asked the question. Make eye contact with that person.
Do answer with only "yes" or "no" when you can.
Do answer questions that seem stupid or foolish to you. It is your attorney's job to object to improper questions.
Don't mumble. Speak loudly enough to be heard by the judge, the court reporter, the opposing side, the jury.
Don't memorize answers. It will show and others may not believe you. You may forget what you planned to say.
Don't lie about anything, not even white (small) lies. If you are discovered to be lying, the judge may find it hard to believe you when you are telling the truth.
Don't feel the need to explain every answer. "What I mean when I say that" may sound like you are trying to hide something.
Don't argue with the questioner.
Don't ask questions back: "what would you do if"
Don't give flippant answers.
Don't assume that the lawyer has a hidden motive for every question.
When your attorney objects to a question, wait until the judge makes a decision.
- Only answer the questions if the objection is overruled or if the judge asks you to answer the question.
- Of the objection is "sustained", do not answer the questions.
GENERAL TIPS: WORKING WITH ATTORNEY
Your attorney is there to help and support you. Attorneys are bound by ethical rules and all information you tell them must be kept confidential. It is in your best interest to be as specific as possible with your attorney. If you think you may not feel comfortable verbally informing your attorney about specific acts, you can put them in writing.
Detail ALL incidents of abuse and try to be as specific as possible
- Dates of abuse.
- Places where the abuse occurred : i.e. in your home (what room) or in public (give street name).
- Types of Abuse: i.e. threats, hitting, punching, pushing, shoving, biting, or forced sex acts.
- Objects used: i.e. knives, guns, furniture, etc.
- Inform your attorney about any possible witnesses: give your attorney the names of any possible witnesses.
- Do you have any pictures that show any injuries that were a result of abuse?
- Did you ever seek medical attention?
- Which hospital did you go to?
- Did the hospital treat you for any injuries?
- Did you ever call the police?
- Did the police respond?
- Was a report written?
- Was your abuser arrested?
State whether or not you are receiving any type of benefits from the state (i.e. welfare, temporary cash assistance, etc.)
Do you have children?
Is there a custody order in place?
(Just because your child resides with you does not mean you have legal custody, both parents always have rights)
- Are your children safe?
- Inform your attorney of the names, ages, addresses and, school addresses of your children.
- If your abuser wants visitation, inform your attorney that you would like the exchange to take place at a neutral setting. (Police Stations or Courthouses are sometimes an option).
- Inform your attorney whether or not you want supervised visitation.
- Inform your attorney whether or not you are receiving child support from your abuser.
- Inform your attorney whether or not your abuser is paying health insurance for your children.
Keep your Address Confidential.
Inform your attorney that you do not want your current address listed on any documents that your abuser may receive or view.
It's Your Case.
Remember to ask your attorney questions. You should advise your attorney of any other information that you think may be important.
REMEMBER to bring ALL court documents.
It is important to bring any and all documents that relate to a case you have in court (i.e. protective order, child custody order, or child support order).
COURTHOUSE CONTACT INFORMATION
Queen Anne's County
Queen Anne's County Circuit Court, 100 Courthouse Square, Centreville, MD 21617
Tel. (410) 758-1773
Queen Anne's County District Court, 120 Broadway Street, Centreville, MD 21617
Tel. (410) 819-4000
Talbot County Circuit Court, 11 North Washington Street, Easton, MD 21601
Tel. (410) 822-2611
Talbot County District Court, 108 West Dover Street, Easton, MD 21601
Tel. (410) 819-5850
Caroline County Circuit Court, 109 Market Street, Denton, MD 21629
Tel. (410) 479-1811
Caroline County District Court, 207 South Third Street, Denton, MD 21629
Tel. (410) 819-4600
Kent County Circuit Court, 103 North Cross Street, Chestertown, MD 21620
Tel. (410) 778-7460
Kent County District Court, 103 North Cross Street, Chestertown, MD 21620
Tel. (410) 810-3360
Dorchester County Circuit Court, 206 High Street, Cambridge, MD 21613
Tel. (410) 228-0481
Dorchester County District Court, 310 Gay Street, Cambridge, MD 21613
Tel. (410) 901-1420