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What are some tips on attending and speaking or testifying in court?


Court Process & Legal Rights Guide For Foster Caregivers | Table of Contents


Tips on Attending Court

Always show respect and courtesy for everyone in the courtroom. Arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled court time. Be prepared to wait. Courts are busy, and hearings do not always start on time, but your information is valuable. Before you enter the courtroom, turn off your cellphone. You may want to ask the DCFS case worker about courthouse specific rules such as no cell phones, backpacks, or baseball caps, etc. Dress professionally (as you would for a job interview). Always stand when the judge enters the room.

Tips on Speaking/Testifying as a Witness in Court

Come organized and prepared. You may want to bring a copy of the Foster Caregiver Progress Form to reference when you speak. Tell the truth. Speak from firsthand knowledge and loudly and clearly. Testimony must be spoken so it can be recorded in the court record, so do not nod or shake your head when answering a question.

Understand that if you present written or oral information to the court, the judge and parties to the case have a legal right to ask you follow-up questions and/or call you as a witness. However, even if you do not speak at court or submit the form, the parties in the case always have a legal right to call you as a witness for any hearing. If you are called to testify as a witness, you will be under oath to tell the truth, required to answer specific questions, and subject to cross-examination (i.e., questioning) by the attorneys and/or judge in the case. Be serious, calm, polite, and sincere, even if challenged or criticized. Wait until a question is completed before you begin your answer. Listen carefully to the question and make your answer directly responsive to it. If you do not understand a question, ask the judge and/or attorney for clarification. If you do not know the answer to a question or cannot remember something, just say so. Do not guess at an answer.