Appearing in court can be a nerve-racking experience, especially, if you are being sued. Many times, people believe they just need to “see” the judge and explain the situation, believing that once their side is explained, the judge will understand and the issue will be resolved. More often than not, this is not the case. There are many misconceptions regarding getting to “see” the judge and what that means. Here are four of the most common misconceptions:
- If I just explain it to the Judge they will understand.
Judges are people but they are working within the confines of the law. While you may have a sympathetic story to tell the judge that does not necessarily mean that they will rule in your favor. The judge has to follow the law and there are specific procedures that must be taken before a judge can make an order. They can’t just hear your story and make a decision based on that.
- I’ll show up to court and ask the judge to make an order.
During the process of a case there are regularly scheduled hearings which are often times clerical in nature, such as in civil cases a Case Management Conference or in family law a Family Resolution Conference. These types of conference’s are automatically set when a case if filed and are essentially scheduled for the parties to come before the judge and coordinate schedules to set a trial date, discuss if mediation or a settlement conference has occurred and overall, how the case is moving along for timing purposes.
Many times, people go to these conference’s believing that while they are before the judge, they can simply make a request for the judge to set orders or even make a ruling on the entire case. Procedurally, this is improper and likely the judge will inform you that the conference is not the time or place to litigate the case. For the court to make orders, generally there needs to be a noticed motion set which provides the opposing side the opportunity to respond. So just because you are in front of a judge does not automatically give you the ability to seek order or for the judge to make any.
- If I tell the Judge I have no money he/she will understand.
While it may be true that you do not have money that does not stop the case. The judge may hear your claims that you do not have money either to pay the other side or to hire an attorney, however, that generally has no effect on your case. Your case will move forward regardless of you financial situation.
- I’ll just show up at trial and show my evidence, it’s so easy to understand.
Albeit, it may be true that you have evidence supporting your position it is not as simple as just showing up to a hearing or trial to just show the judge. If you are representing yourself, you are still held to the same rules of evidence as an attorney. Meaning you must follow the same rules that apply to allowing evidence in. Violations of the rules can cause you to lose your case and/or regardless of how much evidence you have, if you do not follow the rules, the judge may not be allowed to consider that evidence.
As you can see, navigating the legal system is complex and should not be taken lightly. Merely “seeing” a judge does not mean something will happen or your case will be resolved.
By: Iris Gomez, Esq., Attorney at Contreras Law