GOING TO STATE COURT
What to Wear (or NOT wear): While it is not necessary to dress up for the non-trial settings in court, please NEVER wear shorts or a sleeveless shirt! NEVER chew gum! Tuck in your shirt and no caps in court. For a jury trial setting, men should wear either a suit and tie or a sport coat with white shirt open at the collar. Ladies should wear a pant-suit or dress.
Where to Go: Downtown Map
When to Get There: You have a contract with your bondsman to show up in court at or before the time he tells you to. Do NOT be late. There are often long lines at the door and elevators and many of the judges will forfeit your bond and issue a warrant for your arrest even if you are only a minute late!
What to Do: Enter the court room and be seated in any of the rows behind the front row. The front row in front of the gates are reserved for attorneys and court personnel. Once your name has been called at "Docket Call" you can go into the hall, but remain close by so your attorney (or the court personnel) can find you. Do not talk to others in the audience. Go into the hall for conversations. It may seem like the attorney is taking a long time to get to court, but all courts begin at about the same time and he has to go to them in a particular order. Please be patient. Do NOT leave until you have answered docket call and you have your copy of a signed reset form in your hands.
Types of Court Settings:
Probable Cause or PC: This will be the very first setting usually a day or two after arrest. You will hear a short statement of what you are charged with, get a bond amount set (if it has not already been set) and can request an appointed attorney if you are indigent.
Arraignment: In the old days, this would be the setting where a defendant would stand before the judge, the prosecutor would read the indictment and a plea of "not guilty" would be entered. Now-days the formalities are dispensed with and a plea of "not guilty" is entered for everyone. We still call it "arraignment" and, if the Grand Jury has not yet acted, a case will usually keep being reset for "arraignment" until the grand jury votes an indictment or no-bill in the case.
Non-Issue: After a case has been indicted by the Grand Jury there will usually be one or more "non-Issue" settings. This would be similar to a "non-trial" setting.
Disposition: The "disposition" setting is a non-trial setting signifying the case is getting old and it either needs to be plea-bargained for a guilty plea or set for trial. Some attorneys will file Motions at this setting.
Motion Setting: At a "Motion Setting" the defense and prosecution will conference over the Motions that have been filed. Once they have agreed upon them, the judge will sign the orders. If there is disagreement over some of the requests, the judge will resolve it and sign the appropriate orders.
Trial Setting: This is the setting where the jury is selected and evidence is produced through witnesses and exhibits. There are two parts to the trial. At the "guilt-innocence" phase, the jury only considers whether a defendant is guilty or innocent. If there is a finding of guilt, the second phase is usually immediately begun to determine punishment. See Punishments