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Questions You Want Answered > What is the Court Process? > Where do I go and how do I act at court?

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The first thing you need to know is when and where to go.  Check your scheduling order for the time and the date.  Google the address and locate the area parking.  Calculate how long it will take you to get to the courthouse and add 20 minutes.  You don’t want to be late and you will have to go through security and a metal detector (no knives, horse blanket pins or other weapons).  Oh, and don’t forget your calendar, because you may need to clear dates for court hearings.

 If you’re feeling really ambitious and you have access to the internet, look up your case on Maryland Case Search. Depending on the county your case is in, the magistrate and hearing room will be listed there. If you don’t look up your case in advance, don’t worry.  Inside the lobby of every courthouse in Maryland is a listing of the day’s court docket.  In most of them, it is electronic, although in some, it is still a paper docket, posted on the wall.  The docket will list your name, case number, courtroom number and location of the courtroom. Head to the courtroom.  

 In the courtroom before the hearing time, you’ll see a person sitting up near the magistrate’s bench.  That’s the courtroom clerk.  The clerk will check in all the parties for the morning’s cases.  There may be a number of cases on the docket; you may not be the only one in front of the magistrate at your hearing time.  At the hearing time or shortly thereafter, a door will open in the front of the courtroom near the magistrate’s/judge's bench and the magistrate/judge will come out.  When the door opens, you stand until the magistrate/judge takes the bench and instructs you to sit down.  Then you sit down and wait for your case to be called.

Until your case is called, you don’t talk.  Period.  When the magistrate/judge calls your case, you go up to the tables in front of the courtroom.  Many of them are marked either “Plaintiff” or “Defendant.” Some are not marked at all.  Sit at the table marked for your party designation in the case, or ask the magistrate/judge where to sit.  When you are called on to speak, stand up to speak unless the magistrate/judge tells you otherwise. If you need to use electronics, for example a laptop to take notes, ask for permission.  Refer to the magistrate/judge as “Your Honor.”  At no point are you to talk directly to the other side while you are in front of the magistrate/judge; you only talk to the magistrate/judge.  


Last updated on January 20, 2018 by Karen Robbins, Attorney at Law