RULES OF DECORUM
From MN Bench Book - Trial Procedures & Practices for Judges
Minnesota General Rules of Practice for the District Courts
Includes amendments effective January 1, 2006
Rule 2. Court Decorum; Conduct of Judges and Lawyers
Rule 2.01 Behavior and Ceremony in General
- (a) Acceptable Behavior. Dignity and solemnity shall be maintained in the courtroom. There shall be no unnecessary conversation, loud whispering, newspaper or magazine reading or other distracting activity in the courtroom while court is in session.
- (d) The Jury. Jurors shall take their places in the jury box before the judge enters the courtroom. Court personnel shall assemble the jurors when court is reconvened.
- When a jury has been selected and is to be sworn, the presiding judge or clerk shall request everyone in the courtroom to stand.
- (e) Court Personnel. Court personnel shall maintain order as litigants, witnesses and the public assemble in the courtroom, during trial and during recesses. Court personnel shall direct them to seats and refuse admittance to the courtroom in such trials where the courtroom is occupied to its full seating capacity.
- (Amended effective January 1, 1998.)
Rule 2.02 Role of Judges
- (a) Dignity. The judge shall be dignified, courteous, respectful and considerate of the lawyers, the jury and witnesses. The judge shall wear a robe at all trials and courtroom appearances. The judge shall at all times treat all lawyers, jury members, and witnesses fairly and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual preference, status with regard to public assistance, disability, or age.
- (b) Punctuality. The judge shall be punctual in convening court, and prompt in the performance of judicial duties, recognizing that the time of litigants, jurors and attorneys is of value and that habitual lack of punctuality on part of a judge justifies dissatisfaction with the administration of the business of the court.
- (c) Impartiality. During the presentation of the case, the judge shall maintain absolute impartiality, and shall neither by word or sign indicate favor to any party to the litigation. The judge shall be impersonal in addressing the lawyers, litigants and other officers of the court.
- (d) Intervention. The judge should generally refrain from intervening in the examination of witnesses or argument of counsel; however, the court shall intervene upon its own initiative to prevent a miscarriage of justice or obvious error of law.
- (e) Decorum in Court. The judge shall be responsible for order and decorum in the court and shall see to it at all times that parties and witnesses in the case are treated with proper courtesy and respect.
- (f) Accurate Record. The judge shall be in complete charge of the trial at all times and shall see to it that everything is done to obtain a clear and accurate record of the trial. It is a duty to see that the witnesses testify clearly so that the reporter may obtain a correct record of all proceedings in court.
- (g) Comment Upon Verdict. The judge should not comment favorably or adversely upon the verdict of a jury when it may indirectly influence the action of the jury in causes remaining to be tried.
- (Amended effective January 1, 1998.)
Rule 2.03 Role of Attorneys
- (a) Officer of Court. The lawyer is an officer of the court and should at all times uphold the honor and maintain the dignity of the profession, maintaining at all times a respectful attitude toward the court.
- (b) Addressing Court or Jury. Except when making objections, lawyers should rise and remain standing while addressing the court or the jury. In addressing the court, the lawyer should refer to the judge as “Your Honor” or “The Court.” Counsel shall not address or refer to jurors individually or by name or occupation, except during voir dire, and shall never use the first name when addressing a juror in voir dire examination. During trial, counsel shall not exhibit familiarity with the judge, jurors, witnesses, parties or other counsel, nor address them by use of first names (except for children).
- (c) Approaching Bench. The lawyers should address the court from a position at the counsel table. If a lawyer finds it necessary to discuss some question out of the hearing of the jury at the bench, the lawyer may so indicate to the court and, if invited, approach the bench for the purpose indicated. In such an instance, the lawyers should never lean upon the bench nor appear to engage the court in a familiar manner.
- (d) Non-Discrimination. Lawyers shall treat all parties, participants, other lawyers, and court personnel fairly and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual preference, status with regard to public assistance, disability, or age.
- (e) Attire. Lawyers shall appear in court in appropriate courtroom attire.