8 Things You Should Never Say to a Judge While in Court

There are many, many times in life when it’s just best to not speak up — you just might say something that’s a real deal breaker. For example, if you get stopped by a cop? Zip it. And if you’re appearing in court before a judge? Zip it. At least until he asks you something. Judges can be very strict about their courtroom rules and you certainly don’t want to say something that would affect your outcome.
Keep reading about the things you should never say to a judge while in court. Some might surprise you and all will help you.

1. Anything that sounds memorized

court judge gavel
Speak in your own words. | Chris Ryan/Getty Images

According to court reporting company Cook & Wiley, it’s crucial that you speak to the judge in your own words — never, ever deliver a planned speech. Should you memorize things it might make some of your testimony sound rehearsed, and in turn, unconvincing. Here are a few things you can do so your answers don’t sound like you’ve been coached:

  • Speak in your own words.
  • Before the trial, think about the matter you’ll be answering questions about so you have at least an idea of what you want to say.
  • Jog your memory by picturing relevant aspects of the case, such as places, things, and people.

Next: Calm down.

2. Anything angry

A lawyer questioning a suspect
Keep your calm no matter what. | Image Source/iStock/Getty Images

Judges don’t like when you get angry in their courtrooms — it makes you see less objective and more like you’re exaggerating. Even if you feel you’ve been wronged, says Cook & Wiley, keep your temper in check and be courteous. Avoid being sarcastic, too, because that can come off as angry — and the judge won’t like it, either.
Next: Never say this thing.

3. ‘They didn’t tell me … ’

Law concept open book with wooden judges gavel on table in a courtroom or law enforcement office, blue background.
That’s not their problem. | Getty Images

If you come to court unprepared, never tell a judge that the court staff didn’t tell you to bring a document or form with you on your court date, according to FindLaw. Judges see defendants come to court unprepared quite often, and it rightfully makes them mad. Don’t make excuses to the judge and blame your issue on someone else. Instead, be contrite and apologize sincerely to the judge.
Next: Keep it clean.

4. Any expletives

Stern judge about to bang gavel on sounding block in the court room
You might get thrown in jail. | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Cursing and screaming at a judge might just get you thrown in jail for contempt, according to FindLaw. So, don’t curse in the courtroom. Judges don’t appreciate it and it’s disrespectful for all concerned. Like your temper, keep your bad language under wraps and you’ll be OK.
Next: Don’t utter these words.

5. Any of these specific words

Avoid using these phrases. | 3drenderings/iStock/Getty Images

There are certain words you should never say to a judge, according to A2L Consulting. If you incorporate these words into your courtroom vocabulary, you will not sound approachable or trustworthy. Because you want people — particularly the judge — to relate to you in the courtroom, just speak like you would to your friends. Here are the words you should never throw at a judge:

  • Notwithstanding
  • But for
  • Whereas
  • Assuming arguendo
  • Aforementioned
  • Heretofore

Next: Just the facts

6. Anything that’s an exaggeration

Judge Holding Documents
You have to be as specific and accurate as possible. | AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images

Don’t make generalized statements to a judge — ever, says Cook & Wiley. You will often have to correct it. Even if you need a few seconds to think about your answer, it’s important to respond accurately and carefully. It’s also key to avoid exaggerating. Judges have a keen sense of when people do it — and they don’t like it. Obviously, you should never lie to a judge, either. That is called perjury, and it’s a crime for which you will be punished if you are caught.
Next: Be very careful about this.

7. Anything you can’t amend

Don’t make any definitive statements that can be used against you. | Brian A Jackson/iStock/Getty Images

Making definitive statements about what you recall can get you in trouble, according to Cook & Wiley. Unless you are absolutely certain about something, keep a lid on it. Never saying something such as, “That’s all that was said,” or “Nothing else happened.”
Instead, try something along the lines of, “That’s all I recall” or “That’s all I remember happening.” This way, if you remember more details after you think about it you can amend your statement.
Next: Just answer the question.

8. Any volunteered information

Wooden gavel on a table
Only answer the questions they ask. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When you get in front of a judge, do yourself a favor: Answer only the questions he asks you. Never volunteer information the judge doesn’t ask you for, warns Cook & Wiley. Give clear, short answers to questions — the judge couldn’t care less about your observations. Make sure you state only your own opinions, too; don’t give the judge information that someone told you unless he specifically asks you for it.
Read more: These Are the Things You Should Never Say to a TSA Agent
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