Court Process and Etiquette

Court Process and Etiquette

In this guide, you'll find important terms and tips for a court appearance.

Legal Terminology

  • Plaintiff: the person who starts the civil case by filing a complaint. 
  • Defendant: in civil cases, it is the person against whom the case is being brought.  
  • Pro Se Litigant: a person representing themselves without an attorney. 
  • Complaint: the first document given by the plaintiff to the court and the other side that starts a court case 
  • Answer: A written statement by the defendant responding to the complaint. This will contain any defenses (counter-arguments) or objections (disagreements with the complaint) to the other side’s case.  

Motion: a request made to the court seeking an order or a decision on a certain aspect of the case.

What Should I Wear and Not Wear To Court?

You should come to court dressed appropriately. Consider wearing a suit, or at least a button-up shirt and dress pants. Other options for what to wear include a dress, or dress pants with a conservative top.

You should avoid wearing hats, flip flops, baggy clothing, clothing with inappropriate language or images, ripped jeans, tube tops or crop tops. 

General Tips For Court

How Do I Address The Judge? 

  • You need to stand when the judge enters and leaves the courtroom.  
  • When you are speaking to the judge, you need to stand. Only speak directly to the judge. Do not speak to the opposing party while in court unless the judge allows it.  
  • Always address the judge as “Your Honor.” 


What Else Should I Know? 

  • You need to be on time for your hearing. Timeliness is very important. 
  • The court staff can answer any additional questions you may have about the process or how to fill out forms. They cannot provide legal advice.  
  • When you are in the courtroom, listen for your name to be called. When it is, you should say that you are present. 


Where Can I Access the Internet? 

  • The following types of places have WIFI for free or that customers can use: Coffee Shops like Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks or Panera, McDonalds. 
  • Libraries also have computers and printers that can be used to view and print documents.

List of Libraries

New Bedford Public Libraries:

Main Branch 

613 Pleasant Street

New Bedford, MA 02740


Wilks Branch

1911 Acushnet Avenue

New Bedford, MA 02746


Casa Da Saudade Branch

58 Crapo Street

New Bedford, MA 02740


Lawler Branch

745 Rockdale Avenue

New Bedford, MA 02740


Howland-Green Branch

3 Rodney French Blvd.

New Bedford, MA 02744 

(508) 991-6212


Boston Public Libraries:

Adams Street

690 Adams Street

Dorchester, MA 02122



40 Academy Hill Road

Brighton, MA 02135



179 Main Street

Charlestown, MA 02129



2 Boylston Street

Boston, MA 02116


Codman Square

690 Washington Street

Dorchester, MA 02124



433 Centre Street

Jamaica Plain, MA 02130



149 Dudley Street

Roxbury, MA 02119


East Boston

365 Bremen Street

East Boston, MA 02128


Egleston Square

2044 Columbus Avenue

Roxbury, MA 02119



419 Faneuil Street

Brighton, MA 02135


Fields Corner

1520 Dorchester Avenue

Dorchester, MA 02122


Grove Hall

41 Geneva Avenue

Dorchester, MA 02121



300 North Harvard Street

Allston, MA 02134


Hyde Park

35 Harvard Avenue

Hyde Park, MA 02136


Jamaica Plain

30 South Street

Jamaica Plain, MA 02130


Lower Mills

27 Richmond Street

Dorchester, MA 02124



1350 Blue Hill Avenue

Mattapan, MA 02126


North End

25 Parmenter Street

Boston, MA 02113


Parker Hill

1479 Tremont Street

Roxbury, MA 02120



4246 Washington Street

Roslindale, MA 02131


South Boston

646 East Broadway

South Boston, MA 02127


South End

685 Tremont Street

Boston, MA 02118


Uphams Corner

500 Columbia Road

Dorchester, MA 02125


West End

151 Cambridge Street

Boston, MA 02114


West Roxbury

1961 Centre Street

West Roxbury, MA 02132

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