Adventures in Court-Sitting, Part I: Fairfax County

by Philip Yabut in

As a new-ish solo practitioner, I am constantly looking for ways to increase both my experience and exposure in the field.  Recently, I had a morning scheduling conference for a divorce case in Fairfax County, Virginia, and since those proceedings normally last no more than 10 minutes, I decided to make the trip out there worth my while by watching random court proceedings.

I took in a sampling of cases in General District and Traffic courts in order to get a feel of what these proceedings are like since I have never practiced in them before (I already have some limited experience in Circuit and Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts).  This is what I learned:

* Cops don't recognize the popular concept of "rolling stop."  Neither do judges.

* If you ask a witness a question, don't interrupt him before he fully answers.  Judges don't like that.

* General seating in a courtroom can be really tough on your back.

* Never, ever let someone use your driver's license to operate a vehicle, even if it's your our own brother and you love him dearly.  You might end up with a criminal record without actually doing anything wrong.

Besides that, I did get one very important lesson reinforced out of watching other lawyers practice law in front of judges.  Even if s/he disagrees and rules against you, a judge will always appreciate a good advocate.

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