The prospect of appearing in or even simply attending Court proceedings will fill most people with a sense of dread. There are a great number of unknowns and a Courtroom is not known as being an inviting or friendly environment.
However, a Courtroom is certainly a safe environment and while the participants in a Court process may appear to be aloof and unfriendly, in fact these people are well aware of the stress and anxiety that a person may feel when coming to Court and will happily answer questions or provide help.
The Courtroom is used for several types of cases and depending on the nature of the case or what stage it is at in the process, the Courtroom and the people in it can look quite different. For instance, if the Court is set up for a criminal matter there will likely be a jury, a full press box, an accused person near the back of the Court, several lawyers, the Judge, a registrar and members of the New Zealand Police. However, a commercial matter in the early stages of the process will be handled in what is called the commercial list and in that case there is no jury, any police and several matters will be heard one after another involving different lawyers that will come and go as their matters are called.
Accordingly, how to prepare to come to Court will depend on the reason for attendance and the type of case. However, here is a checklist of key things to do in preparation for attending Court as a support person or as a client in a civil (non-criminal) matter: