Clients are often nervous about what they should wear to Vermont criminal court.
Whether it is for an arraignment or testify as a witness it is appropriate to dress business casual or business attire to court.
It is not necessary to wear a full suit to court, but there is nothing wrong with doing so. Attorneys will likely be wearing suits or other business clothing. The judges typically wear black robes.
In all criminal court rooms in Vermont no drinks or food are allowed. Please be aware that you will have to go through security to access the courthouse. Glass, weapons, some sharp objects, vaping devices, drugs, alcohol, and contraband are not permitted past security. If you forget some nail polish in your purse (I have done so more than once) or have a swiss army knife on your key chain, the guards will usually take your name and hold it for you until you have completed your business at the courthouse. You are required to pass through a metal detector and it streamlines the process if you remove belts and coats to pass through the x-ray machine before walking through the metal detector.
No one is allowed to wear hats in Vermont courtrooms. This includes beanies, winter hats, and baseball hats. You may wear hats into the Vermont criminal court building, but not in the actual courtroom. If you forget to remove your hat, the court security officers will remind you to remove it before the judge takes the bench.
It is customary and required to rise when the Vermont Superior Judge presiding over the proceedings walks in from judge’s chambers to take a sit at the bench. The court security office will advise “All Rise.” You may sit when the Judge says “You may be seated.”
If you are speaking to the judge it is best to address he or she as “Your Honor.” If the judge asks you a question the appropriate way to respond is to say “Yes, your Honor” or “No, your Honor.” When speaking to the judge or otherwise addressing the Vermont criminal court it is appropriate to stand. When the other side, typically the prosecutor in Vermont criminal court, is addressing the court it is proper to be seated.
A lot of clients have anxiety about the logistics of what to wear to Vermont criminal court, where to sit, and when to approach the defense table. It is perfectly normal to be intimidated by a process that is new and unfamiliar. Your attorney will guide you on practical court etiquette. If you forget in the moment, don’t worry, just look to your attorney. A good rule of thumb is to be seated near by, stand when your attorney does, and be seated when your attorney is.
A short visit to Vermont criminal court will educate you that many criminal defendants do not follow these guidelines, and you case won’t be impacted if you do not, but what to wear to Vermont criminal court and associated questions are normal and routinely pondered by those new to the Vermont criminal justice system. The Vermont Judiciary website has some additional tips on proper courtroom behavior that can be located here.