How to Handle the Courtroom Stress
Courtroom stress can be a killer – – even before your case starts. People have fear of courtrooms and most of us tend to avoid any affairs that can advance to court. However, once we find ourselves in the grip of it, we need to know how to cope.
Defendant – shock and fear
That very moment when you first find out you are being sued is usually accompanied by nausea, numbness and the sound of your heart beating in your chest. The next moment, you find yourself in a very strange place. You will either ignore the fact that you are facing a trial or become truly agitated and upset at those pressing charges. The advice to you is not to seek justice at this point, but wait until the shock wears off and you can truly accept the challenge laid out in front of you. If you really perceive it as a challenge, it will help you face certain fears. Do not act as if everything is lost straight away. If you do have some fears, and you certainly will, try to focus on the underlying causes. Do not lose your head because you feel you will give in to pressure, but try to understand where the pressure is coming from. Assuming you are telling the truth, it can be caused by fear of public speaking and your opposition’s representative’s ability to make you look bad and somehow turn everything and everyone against you. Your best option here is to be generous when communicating with your lawyer and tell them everything you know as well as ask questions about the process and your odds so you know what to expect.
Witness and plaintiff
These are two different categories but with similar fears. Both of these do not go through the phase of initial shock as there is nothing particularly shocking. However, until they walk into a courtroom, they do not know what they can expect. Both plaintiffs and witnesses are afraid of the hostile environment in the courtroom as well as being ridiculed by the opposing side. If you feel that someone has violated your rights, did not do you justice, and has done you great damage, stand your ground and ask for reprimand. However, get well informed about similar cases and their outcomes. Everyone involved in a judicial process may benefit from gaining relevant knowledge. Expert witnesses should stay on top of the developments in their specialty whereas other witnesses should speak to a lawyer and find out what exactly is expected of them as well as the type of questions they will need to answer. They can even ‘practice’ giving their statements or being cross-examined. This will help them overcome their fear as they will gain the necessary self-esteem backed up by their knowledge.
Judge and jury
Judges and jurors are no exceptions to the influence of the courtroom stress. The source of their stress is quite different to what has already been mentioned. First of all, they have the ultimate role in the process and their decision is the one determining the outcome. Often, those accused fail to see their own fault but blame it entirely on the decision reached by these legal actors. This can often lead to courtroom violence or threats and safety risks for jurors and judges, as well as their families. East Coast Family Lawyers point out that the more emotional the trial is, the greater is the courtroom
stress involved. Jurors do not get to choose dates and which trial they will be at. This is why they usually bring along some stress related to their private or professional tasks they cannot tend to due to the jury duty. The type of stress these two categories are exposed to is the hardest one to alleviate, mainly due to the burden of their role. However, helping them deal with their basic fears by making sure they are truly safe of any form of violence within the court and that their families are protected, can help them deal with the unproductive portion of the stress. Also, allowing time for jurors to take care of their personal and professional matters can be very helpful. When it comes to the stress caused by the emotional content of a trial, there are different types of debriefings and interventions done, before and after the process, to ensure that they do not suffer a trauma caused by stress.
Do not let anyone intimidate you. Stand your ground on every matter. Be well informed and do not be afraid to ask questions. Fear is dreading the unknown so the key is to take your time to familiarize yourself with the processes, the facts, and your emotions.