Let's say you file a case or lawsuit, or have had one filed against you. Then you get a notice from the court with a hearing date and location.
A court hearing gives you a chance to tell your side of the story. The judge or magistrate is there to listen to you and to the other side, and then make a decision based on facts. Here’s how to make sure you and your facts are heard.
Preparing for the hearing
When you’re going to a hearing, don’t arrive late or unprepared. To help avoid that you should:
- Arrive at the courthouse early
- Find a babysitter for your kids
- Dress to impress—no tank tops, shorts or flip flops
- Eat ahead of time—eating, drinking and smoking will not be allowed
- Let your work know that you may be out all day
Learn more about courtroom do’s and don’ts.
When it’s your turn to speak, make sure you're heard
Speak loudly and clearly enough so that the judge can hear what you’re saying. When you’re telling your side of the story, stay focused on the facts.
Your actions matter, too:
- Stand when the judge enters and leaves the room
- Call the judge "Your Honor"
- Don’t interrupt the other side, even if they say something you don’t agree with
Here are other ways to make sure you’re heard in court.
Know what you will say
A hearing is your opportunity to present your side of the story. Plan out what you will say. Some people practice at home before the hearing. Telling your story well will help make sure you are heard.
Do you have evidence, like receipts or photographs? What witnesses can help confirm that what you say is true? Did you bring everything you need? Just to be safe, put everything together the night before.
You need to understand the rules of the court. In many courtrooms, you will need to follow specific rules or the judge may not look at your evidence. Learn how to introduce your evidence into court.
The same is true of your witnesses. If you ask questions in the wrong way, the judge may not allow your witnesses to answer. Learn how to work with witnesses.
Different courts in Ohio follow different rules and processes. What you might expect in small claims court is different from what you should expect in eviction or domestic relations court. Learn more about the Ohio Court System.