It is best to have an attorney represent you since they have the education and experience to properly advise and appear with you in Court. Representing yourself means it is your responsibility to obtain all necessary information on the Court rules and procedures.
If you need assistance finding an attorney please contact the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) at (805) 541-5502. No cost legal direction is also available through the Self-Help Center / Family Law Facilitator for family law, guardianship, civil harassment and name change cases. For the Self-Help Center / Family Law Facilitator schedule please call (805) 788-3418 or view our schedule online.
Please read this information if you are planning to represent yourself in Court.
- Make sure you file proper papers in a timely fashion For the Court’s consideration. Failure to do so may result in a postponement of your case or in the Judge ruling against you.
- If possible it is a good idea to visit the Court beforehand and observe how cases are handled.
- Be on time for your appearance and dress appropriately. Tank tops, sandals, shorts, and torn clothing are not appropriate Court attire. Smoking, cell phones, gum, food and drink are also not allowed in the courtroom.
- Bring all your Court papers with you and have them organized so they are easy to reference. Bring a pen and paper for notes.
- Be ready when the Judge calls your case number. Prepare to make the best use of time by talking about the most important issued first.
- Refer to the Judge as "Your Honor". Speak clearly and loud enough For the Judge and Court Reporter to hear you. Do not speak while others are speaking and don't interrupt. Direct your comments to the Judge and not the other party.
- Listen carefully to the Judge and try to respond with brief and factual statements. If you wish to speak out of turn you must ask the Judge beforehand. Do not speak with observers while your case is before the Judge.
- Be polite to the Judge and other parties. Arguing, making faces, dishonesty, emotional outbursts and things of this nature are considered inappropriate conduct.
- There is no child care available on the premises; alternate arrangements for court matters should be made.