Your Court Appearance

How to Dress

Dress as though you were going to an important job interview. Casual clothing — such as shorts, bare feet, tank tops, halter tops, and hats — is not acceptable.

You will be removed from the courtroom if you violate court dress code; this may result in an arrest warrant for failure to appear or a default (loss) of your civil case. Regardless of how you personally feel about the dress code, obey the rules. You are not in court to make a symbolic statement regarding your lifestyle.


Always arrive to court on time. If you have a 9:00 a.m. appearance, arrive at least twenty (20) minutes early in order to allow for time to locate parking, go through the court security check, and get to the proper courtroom. In Champaign County, the court is located at 101 East Main Street, in Urbana. There is limited on street parking in Urbana. The following bus routes will most conveniently take you to the Champaign County Courthouse from the university: the #5 Green, #10 Gold, and #13 Silver. Information is available at or 384-8188.

Courtroom Demeanor

  • You and your witnesses should be quiet in court.
  • Don’t smoke or chew gum.
  • Do not go in and out of the courtroom while waiting for your case to be called.
  • During your case, speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard, and stay calm.
  • Call the judge “Your Honor”.
  • Do not interrupt the judge, the attorneys, or any other party in the courtroom.

At all times, you should retain a composed and attentive posture whether you are in the audience, appearing as a witness, appearing as a criminal defendant, or a civil plaintiff or defendant.

If you are entering a guilty plea, the court will inform you of your constitutional rights. You should listen carefully to the court’s explanation in order to make sure you fully understand your rights and responsibilities. If you do not understand your rights, it is proper to ask the court or your attorney for clarification.
It is never proper to speak, even in a whisper, with friends or other audience members, while court is in session.

How Do I Get Ready For Court?

You can go to court yourself and watch other cases in your courtroom before yours comes up. If you do this, you’ll see how the court works, where everybody sits, and what they do and say.
Plan to do this a few days or weeks before you have to go to court. It will make you more comfortable and less nervous when you go to court for your own case.

Court Security

When you enter the Champaign County Courthouse, you will be required to submit to security procedures before you can access the facilities. Your purse, briefcase, bags and other items will be placed on a conveyor belt to be x-rayed to make sure that they do not contain cellphones or any electronic devices, weapons, explosives, or any illegal items such as drug paraphernalia or controlled substances, such as marijuana.
As a user of the court, you will walk through a metal detector to ensure that you are not carrying any contraband. All knives, scissors, or pointed objects are subject to confiscation, so don’t bring them. Do not wear steel-toed shoes/boots or large belt buckles which will trigger alarms and delay your entrance as well as that of other patrons. Court security is taken seriously, so do not treat it as a joke.


Q: Why won’t the State’s Attorney negotiate with me regarding my traffic ticket?
A: You are not an attorney and are on the opposite side of the State’s case. It can be unethical for the State’s Attorney to negotiate with a lay person because the State’s Attorney’s duty is primarily to seek justice for the State, not necessarily to ensure fairness or equity for you as a defendant.
Q: What is contempt of court?
A: Any act which is calculated to embarrass, hinder, or obstruct the court in the administration of justice. Any act calculated to lessen the authority or dignity of the court. Insulting language in the presence of the court is punishable by a fine or imprisonment. Failure to obey the court regarding another party to the proceeding may be civil contempt, punishable by a fine or jail until you comply.
Q: What is a default judgment?
A: It is a judgment which results from a party’s failure to answer, appear, or defend a lawsuit. The defaulting party may set aside the judgment within a short period after it is entered.
Q: Am I entitled to a court-appointed attorney?
A: Not in most civil cases. You may receive appointed counsel in non-petty criminal cases.