Your personal appearance affects the way people view you and
your performance; therefore, always dress appropriately for the
1. Getting the courtroom ready
Arrive at the courtroom at least 15 minutes early so that
you can acquaint yourself with the layout, make any necessary
adjustments for a mock trial situation and be ready to start the
trial exactly on time.
If you are filming, put the camera and operator in the jury box.
(Be unobtrusive -- draw no attention to selves
The attorneys' tables need to each seat three attorneys
comfortably. Be sure that there is adequate room to rise from your
chair and adequate passageway to approach the bench or the
Attorneys should neatly organize their materials on the tables.
Get rid of all unnecessary papers, briefcases and pencils.
Witnesses should seat themselves in separate areas of the
spectators' section. That action will eliminate unnecessary
conversation during the trial.
Be sure that you have removed your hat.
Remove any gum from your mouth.
2. Seating Posture
Participants should remember that from the elevated bench
the judge has a good view of the entire courtroom. Your seating
posture has a definite impact on the judge's impression of you.
Attorneys especially need to be conscious of how they are seated.
Sit straight but not so stiff as to be uncomfortable. Put your feet
flat on the floor or cross your legs in a professional manner.
Avoid nervous mannerisms, such as shaking your leg or tapping your
All participants should speak loudly and enunciate each
word as microphones are not usually available.
4. Presenting opening and closing
Since these are extemporaneous speeches, attorneys should
employ effective speech-making techniques:
Since much of the scoring is done on presentation, rise to
do the questioning.
You may have questions written out, but be ready to adapt when
objections are made or when a witness doesn't respond as you had
Listen to the witness' response. S/he may not say what you had
anticipated and thus you may have to insert or reword questions for
If opposing counsel makes an objection, stop speaking and give
them the floor.
The judge may ask you to respond to their objection. Do so as
confidently as you possibly can.
Sometimes you may want to ask the judge if you may respond to the
If the judge rules against you on an objection, show no signs of
dismay. Simply proceed with another question. The key again is to
maintain your poise.
If you honestly don't know how to proceed, ask the judge if you
may confer with your co-counsel. Make the conference brief. Use
this conference technique only when absolutely essential. Judges
may become frustrated if you hold up the trial too often. Remember:
this conference counts as part of your time allotment.
Never ask a question to which you don't know the answer.
When you have finished your questioning, say "No further
questions, Your Honor," and take your seat in a confident
After you have been sworn in, the judge or bailiff will
indicate for you to be seated. Respond by saying, "Thank
Seat yourself in the witness box in a professional manner.
Position yourself so that you can comfortably give your responses
to the judge.
Speak loudly and clearly and in a manner best fitting the
character you are portraying.
Don't allow any unnecessary movement/gestures to distract from
When an objection is made, immediately stop talking.
Wait until the objection is decided and even then don't respond
until the attorney doing the questioning indicates that you should
Do not attempt to answer a question that you don't understand. Ask
for clarification to be sure you know what is meant.
Never argue with the judge or the opposing counsel. Leave that to
your attorney. Keep a cool head!
Do not leave the witness box until the judge directs you to "step
down." In an instance where a judge might forget, wait a bit and
then ask, "May I step down, Your Honor?"
Walk slowly and confidently back to the spectators' section.
Do not speak to anyone along the way or when you are seated.
7. While the
Rise when the judge is leaving the courtroom.
You now have the opportunity to meet the other team. Walk over to
the other team members. Introduce yourself. It's always appropriate
to congratulate them on a good aspect of their performance.
Remember that they're teenagers just like you. You are all young
people experiencing a courtroom situation. Certainly you want to
win the trial, but a potential friendship can mean a lifetime of
©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association