Lycoming Law Association
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Revised November 9, 2012

  1. Attorneys should stand while addressing the court or jury, except where voicing an objection or making a statement of only a few words.
  2. Attorneys should maintain a substantial distance between themselves and witnesses whom they are examining in order to maintain the voice level of both witness and attorney, to avoid intimidation of the witness and to avoid a tendency toward undue informality. It is proper to approach witnesses who are hard of hearing or when handling exhibits or when questioning concerning a map or diagram.
  3. Attorneys during trial should avoid exhibiting familiarity with witnesses, jurors, or opposing counsel. Jurors and opposing counsel should never be referred to by their first names, and only when a witness is a youngster, or with permission of court, may a witness be addressed by his first name.
  4. Attorneys should be impersonal toward the court and should address the court in the third person, as "the court will remember the testimony" and not, "You will remember". When the judge is on the bench he should be addressed as "Your Honor" and not as "You."
  5. When objection is made to a question asked by a trial attorney he should refrain from asking the witness another question until the court has had an opportunity to rule upon the objection.
  6. All objections and arguments should be made to the court rather than to opposing counsel. Bickering between counsel during the course of a trial is impermissible.
  7. After an objection has been argued and the court has announced its decision, counsel should accept the decision and should not make further comment or argument, unless upon request the court permits counsel to reopen the argument.
  8. Before beginning an opening statement or a closing argument counsel should first address the court by saying, "May it please the Court" or similar words and acknowledging his opposing colleague by saying, "Mr.______________".
  9. A male attorney appearing in court should be dressed with a coat, shirt and tie. A female attorney should use comparably conservative attire.
  10. An attorney desiring a sidebar conference should first obtain leave of court before approaching the bench.
  11. All attorneys who hold or have held titles such as judge, colonel, senator, etc. may not use such titles nor should they be referred to by these titles while in the courtroom.
  12. When a trial is in progress or about to begin, attorneys should not permit their clients or witnesses to use the judge's office waiting room; rather, a jury room or other witness room should be used in order to avoid any appearance of familiarity or acquaintanceship between the court and one party or witness.
  13. Exhibits should be numbered in advance of their use in trial. Similarly, diagrams of the scene of an accident or incident should be prepared in advance and not from the witness stand.
  14. Attorneys should anticipate the major legal issues which will arise during a trial and should present them to the court at the pre-trial conference, or in any event, at an early time in order that arguments and decision can be made without using jury time.
  15. Sidebar conferences disrupt the orderly flow of the trial and are distracting to a jury. The judge cannot ordinarily know in advance whether a requested sidebar conference is necessary, and so the burden must rest upon counsel to make very limited use of the request for sidebar conference.
  16. A trial attorney, like the English barrister, should take professional pride that his questions are rarely objectionable and his objections are seldom questionable.
  17. Counsel should not thank the court for a favorable ruling, or the jury for a favorable verdict.
  18. Where avoidable, police officers appearing as witnesses should not appear in uniform.