Medina County Courthouse

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Professionalism Best Practices Issued by Commission on Professionalism


Issued by the Commission on Professionalism: 

To be truly professional when appearing in court, a lawyer must act in a proper manner. 

Such conduct goes beyond complying with the specific rules of procedure and of evidence promulgated by the Supreme Court of Ohio and with local rules issued by trial courts and individual judges. Proper conduct in the courtroom also includes adhering to common principles of civility and respect when dealing with the judge, court staff, and opposing counsel. 

The Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Professionalism has prepared this list of “dos and don’ts,” to illustrate a number of principles so that lawyers appearing in Ohio courts will fully understand what is expected of them. In creating this list, the Commission does not intend to regulate or to provide additional bases for discipline, but rather to help promote professionalism among Ohio’s lawyers. 

By following the principles of civility and respect, lawyers will enhance their professionalism, as well as the dignity of courtroom proceedings. 


• Be prepared for your participation in any court conference or proceeding. 
• Wear appropriate courtroom attire when appearing in court. If you are a male attorney, always wear a tie. 
• Advise your clients on how to dress appropriately for any scheduled court appearance. 
• Be on time for all court conferences and proceedings. (The best practice is to arrive at least five minutes in advance of the scheduled time.) 
• If you are going to be late, call the courtroom so those who are waiting are properly informed. 
• Turn your cell phone and all other electronic devices off or to silent mode before entering a courtroom. 
• Be courteous when addressing the judge and opposing counsel, both in the courtroom and in chambers. 
• Begin any argument on the record before the judge or jury, by saying, “May it please the court.” 
• Stand whenever you address the judge in the courtroom. 
• Show all exhibits to opposing counsel before showing the exhibit to a witness. 
• Ask the judge’s permission before approaching a witness during trial or before publishing an exhibit to the jury during an examination. 
• Speak clearly and enunciate when addressing the judge or a witness. 
• Agree to stipulate to facts that are not in dispute if they will not adversely affect your client. 
• Respect the private nature of a sidebar conference; avoid making statements or arguments at a level that may be overheard by the jury. 
• Inform the judge in advance of any delays in the scheduling of witnesses. 
• Treat court personnel with the same respect you would show the judge. 
• Be accurate when setting forth pertinent facts and pertinent rules of law. 
• Answer questions from the judge directly and forthrightly. 
• Bring to the judge’s attention any possible ethics issues as soon as you become aware of them. 
• Verify immediately the availability of necessary participants and witnesses after a date for a hearing or trial has been set, so you can promptly notify the judge of any problems. 
• During final argument, be circumspect when summarizing testimony that contains profane words. 


• Make ad hominen attacks on opposing counsel or be sarcastic in either your oral arguments or written briefs. 
• Shout when making an objection in a court proceeding. 
• Make any speaking objections in a jury case except for an explanatory single word or two (e.g., “hearsay,” “leading,” “no foundation”). DO request a side bar conference if you must expound on your objections. 
• Interrupt opposing counsel or the judge, no matter how strongly you disagree with what is being said. 
• Argue with the judge or react negatively after the judge has ruled on an objection or other matter. 
• Tell the judge that he or she has committed a reversible error. 
• Tell the judge that another judge has ruled a different way without providing a copy of the other judge’s written opinion. 
• Display anger in the courtroom. 
• Make facial objections during testimony or during arguments by opposing counsel. 
• Bring a beverage to the trial table unless it is in a non-descript glass or cup and only if you determined that the judge does not object to a beverage on the trial table. 
• Lean or sit on the trial table, jury box, or any other furniture in the courtroom. 
• Move freely around the courtroom once a proceeding is underway without obtaining permission from the judge. 
• Celebrate or denounce a verdict as it is delivered, and also advise clients and interested spectators not to do so. DO behave civilly with opposing counsel when leaving the courtroom. 
The Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Professionalism 
The Supreme Court of Ohio • 65 South Front Street Columbus, Ohio 43215-3431 • • 614.387.9317 

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