What Happens in a Courtroom?

What a courtroom looks like

To take an interactive tour of a typical courtroom, click the image on the right.

The picture below shows a typical courtroom in a criminal trial, with an accused person, a Crown prosecutor, and a court sheriff. In a civil trial (not criminal), the courtroom looks the same, except there is no sheriff. The parties or their lawyers sit where the accused and Crown prosecutor are shown in this picture.

Courtrooms are open to the public (unless the judge makes a special order to close the courtroom). The public and witnesses sit in the back of the courtroom.

Diagram courtesy LSS


How to act in court

Courts are serious places and it is important to act in a respectful way. Here are some tips:

  • Be on time
  • Be quiet
  • Don’t chew gum or bring food or drinks into the courtroom
  • Turn off your cell phone and other electronic devices
  • Don’t take photographs
  • Dress like you are going to a job interview
  • Be polite to everyone in the courtroom, including court staff, lawyers, and the other party
  • Never interrupt the other party (or lawyer) when he or she is speaking
  • Stand when you are speaking
  • Speak loudly so the judge can hear you
  • Don’t use slang or swear words
  • If you are in Provincial Court, call the judge “Your Honour”
  • If you are in Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, call the judge “My Lord” or “My Lady”
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