Federal Courthouse

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Campagnolo
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Federal Courthouse

Postby Campagnolo » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:55 pm

Has anyone tried to watch a case in federal court before? Is there anything I should know before heading down to the courthouse, or is everything pretty straight forward?

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ihatelaw
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby ihatelaw » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:57 pm

leave your guns at home.

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Campagnolo
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Campagnolo » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:01 pm

Well, obviously I'll leave the guns at home.

I'm curious, how many people have gone and watched cases before deciding to go to law school? And if so, where? Federal courthouse? County?

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babaghanouj
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby babaghanouj » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:04 pm

Am planning on doing this soon. It was strange when I realized the other day that I've never actually witnessed a court in action. :oops:

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Kiersten1985 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:05 pm

Wait, are you going to a courthouse to decide if you want to be a lawyer???

This might seem counterintuitive, but that's a slightly terrible idea. Cases rarely go to court and usually big shot attorneys (e.g. partners) actually try the ones that do. And they're usually incredibly boring to watch, by the way.

Go work at a firm and find out what day to day life is actually like for an attorney. That's how you decide to go or not.

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Kiersten1985 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:07 pm

babaghanouj wrote:Am planning on doing this soon. It was strange when I realized the other day that I've never actually witnessed a court in action. :oops:


It doesn't matter if you've never witnessed a court room in action. Many attorneys don't witness it for years. Being a lawyer does not automatically translate to mean being in court. Don't waste your time, honestly.

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Campagnolo
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Campagnolo » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:08 pm

I have seen a few cases at the county courthouse. It's pretty easy... You just file in behind someone else and sit in the back. Stand when the judge comes in, and if it's a jury case, when they come in, too.

Anyone else have any etiquette pointers? Or any advise for going to a federal case (like where to find schedules, kinds of cases being tried, etc., etc.)

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babaghanouj
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby babaghanouj » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:08 pm

Kiersten1985 wrote:Wait, are you going to a courthouse to decide if you want to be a lawyer???

No, no, no, it just sounds like fun/something I should do. I imagine this is the case for the OP as well.

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Kiersten1985 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:10 pm

babaghanouj wrote:
Kiersten1985 wrote:Wait, are you going to a courthouse to decide if you want to be a lawyer???

No, no, no, it just sounds like fun/something I should do. I imagine this is the case for the OP as well.


Oh ok. I was going to start feeling incredibly bad for you guys if you expected to go see what your future life would be like or something. :wink:

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Lermontov
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Lermontov » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:11 pm

Kiersten1985 wrote:Wait, are you going to a courthouse to decide if you want to be a lawyer???

This might seem counterintuitive, but that's a slightly terrible idea. Cases rarely go to court and usually big shot attorneys (e.g. partners) actually try the ones that do. And they're usually incredibly boring to watch, by the way.

Go work at a firm and find out what day to day life is actually like for an attorney. That's how you decide to go or not.


+1

If, however, you're just going to check it out, it's really easy. Most district courts have a website that you can use to figure out when trials would be, and you can just go watch. But, you should definitely go to state instead (even easier to go and watch because there are more people in the chamber). Federal cases are long, complicated, and one afternoon of watching will learn you very little about how any of it works. State cases, you could get lucky and see a whole thing go down in just a few hours, from openings to testimony to closings.

Also, as a by the bye, most court appearances are not trials, they're hearings. And hearings are even more interesting than trials on a fun-per-minute scale.

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Campagnolo
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Campagnolo » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:11 pm

Kiersten1985 wrote:
babaghanouj wrote:Am planning on doing this soon. It was strange when I realized the other day that I've never actually witnessed a court in action. :oops:


It doesn't matter if you've never witnessed a court room in action. Many attorneys don't witness it for years. Being a lawyer does not automatically translate to mean being in court. Don't waste your time, honestly.


Just because many attorneys rarely if ever see a courtroom does not mean that visiting a courthouse is a bad idea. Especially if a career in litigation is a goal.

This seems very odd to me that people are applying to law school without seeing all aspects of the profession first. Why judge things off of Boston Legal when the real deal is in my backyard?

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Campagnolo
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Campagnolo » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:18 pm

Lermontov wrote:
Kiersten1985 wrote:Wait, are you going to a courthouse to decide if you want to be a lawyer???

This might seem counterintuitive, but that's a slightly terrible idea. Cases rarely go to court and usually big shot attorneys (e.g. partners) actually try the ones that do. And they're usually incredibly boring to watch, by the way.

Go work at a firm and find out what day to day life is actually like for an attorney. That's how you decide to go or not.


+1

If, however, you're just going to check it out, it's really easy. Most district courts have a website that you can use to figure out when trials would be, and you can just go watch. But, you should definitely go to state instead (even easier to go and watch because there are more people in the chamber). Federal cases are long, complicated, and one afternoon of watching will learn you very little about how any of it works. State cases, you could get lucky and see a whole thing go down in just a few hours, from openings to testimony to closings.

Also, as a by the bye, most court appearances are not trials, they're hearings. And hearings are even more interesting than trials on a fun-per-minute scale.


By "go to state" you mean appellate court?

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Kiersten1985 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:19 pm

Campagnolo wrote:
Kiersten1985 wrote:
babaghanouj wrote:Am planning on doing this soon. It was strange when I realized the other day that I've never actually witnessed a court in action. :oops:


It doesn't matter if you've never witnessed a court room in action. Many attorneys don't witness it for years. Being a lawyer does not automatically translate to mean being in court. Don't waste your time, honestly.


Just because many attorneys rarely if ever see a courtroom does not mean that visiting a courthouse is a bad idea. Especially if a career in litigation is a goal.

This seems very odd to me that people are applying to law school without seeing all aspects of the profession first. Why judge things off of Boston Legal when the real deal is in my backyard?


No, I'm not at all saying that it's a bad idea to go see one. I'm saying it's a bad idea if you're seeing one to determine if you want to be an attorney or not. If that's your only basis, then you're kidding yourself.

I totally understand if you just want to go see one to see what it's like.

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SamSeaborn2016
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby SamSeaborn2016 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:21 pm

I don't think visiting a court room will hurt anything. I used to sit in pretty regularly on different trials and hearings during my breaks and lunches when I was a traffic court clerk. They range from stab-out-your-own-eyes-boring all the way up to practically stand up comedy.

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Campagnolo
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Campagnolo » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:24 pm

SamSeaborn2016 wrote:I don't think visiting a court room will hurt anything. I used to sit in pretty regularly on different trials and hearings during my breaks and lunches when I was a traffic court clerk. They range from stab-out-your-own-eyes-boring all the way up to practically stand up comedy.


I saw a case about a lesbian love triangle. While the defendant was on the stand, the other two estranged lovers cast stabbing glances at each other from the gallery. It was awesome to behold.

PhofiB
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby PhofiB » Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:56 pm

I'm thinking about sitting in on a hearing/trial or two. Has anyone every done volunteer court watching for any organizations?

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Lermontov
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Lermontov » Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:04 pm

Campagnolo wrote:
SamSeaborn2016 wrote:I don't think visiting a court room will hurt anything. I used to sit in pretty regularly on different trials and hearings during my breaks and lunches when I was a traffic court clerk. They range from stab-out-your-own-eyes-boring all the way up to practically stand up comedy.


I saw a case about a lesbian love triangle. While the defendant was on the stand, the other two estranged lovers cast stabbing glances at each other from the gallery. It was awesome to behold.


Nice. Fun that you got to go (and especially see something interesting). You asked earlier if I meant appellate when I said state court. I really just meant the lowest level of trial court at a state level. Just personal opinion, but for someone who doesn't know anything about the case, I think that that's usually the most interesting level to watch.

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Grizz
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Re: Federal Courthouse

Postby Grizz » Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:11 pm

I've been to federal court in Tampa, FL (Middle District of Florida). Not really a big deal, just be quiet basically, and stand and sit when they tell you/when other people do.

At least in Tampa, and I suspect elsewhere, they didn't let you bring your cell phone in, so be sure to leave that in the car.




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