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Courtroom Etiquette - Court of Queen's Bench - Special Chambers

What to bring

  • One copy of each of your application documents (eg your Claim and Statement or Application and Affidavit)
  • A copy of the letter that you had filed with the court.
  • A copy of your filed Affidavit(s) of Service
  • Copies of all documents filed by the other party
  • A pen and paper to make notes

What to wear

  • You do not have to dress formally for court, but you should dress conservatively and respectfully.   A suggestion would be to dress as if you were going to a job interview.
  • Remember that all Alberta courts have airport style security and any object that may be used as a weapon will be taken away when you enter the building.

Location and Time of Court

  • “Special Chambers” usually refers to afternoon court located in the Court of Queen’s Bench. Ask at the Clerk’s counter or the Law Information Centre to find out which courtroom special chambers is held in.  This is an open courtroom and many matters may scheduled for the same time but will be heard during the course of the morning.
  • Court usually begins promptly at 2:00 p.m.  Check your paperwork to make sure you come to court at the right time.

Duty Counsel

  • Duty Counsel are not normally at court in the afternoons.

In the Courtroom

  • In some locations, there are electronic displays showing which matters are in which courtroom.  In other locations, there are paper lists.  Check your name on the either the display or the list to make sure you are in the right courtroom.  When the courtroom is opened by the clerk, you may go in and sit in one of the benches in the back of the room.
  • Turn off your cell phone and throw away your gum before court begins.
  • Several matters are all scheduled to begin at the same time.  You will have to wait your turn to be heard by the judge.
  • The clerk sits at a desk in front of the Judge and makes notes on a computer.  The clerk has all of the court files and will pass them up to the judge as each case is called. 
  • The judge will be seated in the centre of the courtroom, and you must stand when he/she enters or leaves the room.
  • Usually, there are only one or two matters scheduled in court for the afternoon. The judge will decide which matter will be heard first.

When your case is called

  • Go to the front of the court room when your name is called and sit at one of the tables. The other party or their lawyer will sit on the other side of the courtroom.  There is a podium in the middle where you may stand when you give your presentation to the judge.   
  • Stand whenever you speak to the judge or the judge speaks to you.
  • If the judge is a woman, you can call her “My Lady”, or “Madam Justice” or “Ma’am”.  If the judge is a man, you can call him “My Lord”, or “Mr Justice” or “Sir”.  Do not call the judge “Your Honour” or “Your Worship” or “Your Majesty”.
  • The usual court application follows the following process, although you should listen for and follow any instructions from the Judge.
Which person What they do Example

Applicant

Introduces themselves and the other party (or their lawyer)

Good morning.  My name is Carol Richards.  This is my ex husband George Richards.

Applicant

Says what it is that they are asking for.

I want to reduce my child support and I need a stay of enforcement.

Applicant

Summarizes the facts set out in their court documents and makes their arguments.

 

Judge

May ask questions of the Applicant.

 

Respondent

Summarizes the facts set out in their court documents and makes their arguments.

 

Judge

May ask questions of the Respondent

 

Applicant

Responds to facts or arguments raised by the Respondent.

 

Judge

Makes a decision.

I will set the child support at $328 per month starting January 1st.  I am not prepared to grant a Stay of Enforcement.

Both parties

Thank the judge

 

  • If you are the Applicant and are self-represented, your court order may be typed up for you.  Follow any instructions the judge may give you about arranging to have the Order typed.

Security

  • A Sheriff is usually available in the hallways before court begins and may sit in the courtroom while court is in session.
  • If you are concerned for your safety, talk to the Sheriff.  They can assist you.
  • If you act in an aggressive or threatening manner to any person in the court house, the Sheriff may escort you out.

Helpful Hints

  • Please do not bring children.  Misbehaving children will annoy the judge and will not help your case, and information shared in the courtroom may not be appropriate for children to hear.
  • Do not eat, drink or chew gum/tobacco in the courtroom.  Remove your hat in the courtroom.  Do not talk to others while court is in session.
  • Turn off cell phones, pagers and music devices.
  • The court proceeding is being recorded, even after the judge leaves the courtroom.  The recording equipment will pick up every conversation in the room.
  • It is OK to go into or out of the courtroom when it is in session.  Just be sure to do so quickly and quietly.
  • It is OK to discuss your case (outside the courtroom) and try to reach an agreement.  The judge will always prefer that you settle your case, rather than having them decide.
  • If you have any documents for the judge, hand them to the clerk, and he/she will hand them to the judge.
  • The judge will have read through all of the documents on the file and may ask questions to find out the information that they want to know.  Listen to the judge and use their questions to focus your presentation.
  • Do not interrupt the other party.  You will have your chance to speak when they are done.  It is helpful to make notes of what you want to say, so you don’t forget when it is your turn.
  • Do not make noises or faces when the other party is speaking.
  • Do not argue with the judge.
  • If you do not understand exactly what the judge has ordered, you can ask the judge to clarify what they have said.  If the judge has dealt with part of your issues, but not all, you can ask the judge for their decision on the remaining issues.
  • This video takes place in Provincial Court Civil Division, but gives some good information about what to expect when going to court.