What NOT to Bring to Court
Here’s a guide to items prohibited in local courts
CHILDREN (yes, even the really cute ones)
Unless otherwise advised by your attorney, DO NOT bring children to court for family law matters. If ever there was a time for finding a babysitter, a court appointment qualifies near the top of the list. This restriction is for their welfare, your peace of mind and out of respect for the seriousness of court proceedings. Children may be:
- Distracting to the parents
- Exposed to mature, provocative, controversial or inappropriate topics in your case or overheard in other cases discussed in courtrooms or hallways.
(Even fake ones)
Hopefully this category is fairly obvious. The list of prohibited items includes all explosives; sharp objects that could be used as weapons; sprays; or tasers. A 2016 Detroit News article, “Oakland Deputies Stop Hundreds of Weapons at Courthouse” sheds some light on the need for this advice.
Prohibited Items include:
- Guns or fake guns and bullets
- Explosives, fireworks, sparklers
- Knives, box cutters,
can openers, P-38s
- Screwdrivers, spikes, darts, needles, safety pins, staple removers or scissors
- Mace, pepper-spray or aerosols like hair spray or bug spray
- Brass knuckles, bats, hammers, clubs, tire irons or batons
Alcohol or Drugs
Obviously this includes all illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, lighters or matches. Do not bring alcohol to court. Avoid drinking or taking drugs before your court appearance. You may be tempted to drink or smoke to calm your nerves or steel your resolve but vacant stares or irrational behavior can damage the first impression you make in court and harm your case. Additionally, do not bring food, beverages, gum, or water bottles to court.
As tough as it is to imagine four hours without Facebook, do not attempt to sneak your cell phone into the courthouse. It will either be confiscated or you will end up late for your appointment because you have to take it back out to your car and wait in line again. We get it. Smartphones are practically essential. They provide our link to friends and family; access to news, entertainment and important documents; and stress-relief tools like mindless games. Smartphone withdrawal is no small matter on court day. Practice going without before the big day. Anticipate what you’ll need and prepare ahead. Communicate your absence to work and family in advance so they know what to expect.
Do not bring:
- Cell Phones and Smart Phones
- Palm Pilots
- Tablets and Laptops
- Cameras and other Recording Devices
- Video Games
- Radios or CD players
Destructive or Disruptive Items
This category includes all items that could potentially disrupt court proceedings or deface property.
Do not bring:
- Spray paint, Bingo daubers, highlighters, markers, grease pencils
- Whistles, noise makers, musical instruments
- Laser pointers
- Tools – including saws, measuring tapes, or pliers
Some of these prohibited items make perfect sense. For instance, it’s easy to see why we wouldn’t want people roaming the courthouse with baseball bats or razor blades. Some others are perhaps a little less directly threatening but banned nonetheless. Do not bring:
- Curling Irons or Hair Clippers
- Flatware (spoons and forks)
- Aluminum cans
- Nail clippers
- Dental floss
- Pencil Sharpeners
What TO Bring to Court
The most important thing is that YOU are there – on time, prepared and well-dressed. See our one-minute “What Not to Wear to Court” video blog for more.
Second, bring an ID. You may think since you are leaving your smartphone in the car that you might as well leave your purse or wallet behind too. If you are filing paperwork or signing official documents you may be required to prove your identity.
Third, necessary paperwork. This could include interrogatories, subpoenas, deeds, divorce decrees, or prior court records. If in doubt, bring it. It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
Perhaps consider having a friend or family member along for moral support. Do not bring children. Do not bring large groups of people. The courthouse can get crowded and noisy. Do not bring a potentially disruptive or violent support person.
For more information call the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000.
For more information about Family Law Court Appearances, contact experienced Michigan Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler at 248-676-1000. The lawyers help clients with divorce, custody, parenting time, estate planning, probate, guardianships and many more family law issues. Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates handles cases throughout Southeastern Michigan including Milford; Highland; Hartland; White Lake; Walled Lake; Waterford; Commerce; West Bloomfield; Wixom; Howell; Ann Arbor; New Hudson; South Lyon; Clarkston; Holly; Grand Blanc; and many more local communities.
Written and Posted by Christine Donlon Long, Communications’ Specialist for Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates