Why Do You Stand When a Judge Enters a Courtroom?

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We did a little research and knew you would be interested in the history and reason we all stand when a judge enters a courtroom. Keep reading to learn about the history and reasons we stand for the court.

Our Baltimore criminal defense lawyer explains the history of tradition in the courtroom and the role of the Judge.

“All Rise”

“All rise for the Honorable Judge Randy Rasputin,” as instructed by the bailiff.  An instruction heard in courtroom thousands of times each day throughout the United States and many other countries.

And why is this?  Does it make the court run more smoothly? Is there a procedural history and is it just pomp and circumstance?  Can there be consequences for not standing when the judge enters the courtroom?

Research reveals the answer to all these questions and even case law that sets precedence if one does not rise when the judge enters the courtroom.

Respect for the Court

Traditionally, the theory is the rising for the judge is respect for the court. “In the old, old days of England’s royal courts, the judge entered carrying a Bible, thought to be the very law itself. So you stood to honor the Bible and show respect for the king or queen and for the man personifying it at the moment…It’s pretty much the same today.

We’re a nation of laws and we settle our legal differences in solemn, respectful courts of law and not by offering to shoot each other…So we rise when the judge enters not just to show respect for that particular man or woman appointed to uphold the laws, but to show respect for the law itself. “Maybe you like the law and maybe not, but we’d be in kind of a fix without it.” According to Clay Thompson, azcentral, May 13, 2014.

But it goes much further than that. No matter how irrelevant you may feel a judge is, personally or professionally, the judge is a representative of a state’s judicial system and interpreter of the laws, which must be respected to maintain order of society.

The judge also metes out justice as he or she sees fit given an argument, verdict or circumstances.  You want this judge to be your friend because your future may depend upon such.

You may feel this is only courtroom etiquette, but it is not optional and if you refuse it very well may result in a contempt of court charge. Perhaps the judge will feel your disrespect for the courtroom warrants a fine, few hours or days behind bars to teach you manners.

It is just like the street creeds and how you will hear young people (and old) says, “He dis’ed me man!” And the person disrespecting is subject to punishment.  Well, the same goes when you disrespect the court. It is not taken lightly.

Put simply, standing when the judge enters the courtroom is a procedural formality and like most procedural formalities it has both a symbolic purpose and a very real purpose.

Traditions of the Courtroom

“The Royal Coat of Arms came into being in 1399 under King Henry IV. It is used by the reigning monarch…The Royal Arms appear in every courtroom in England and Wales (with the exception of the magistrates’ court in the City of London), demonstrating that justice comes from the monarch, and a law court is part of the Royal Court (hence its name).

Judges and magistrates are therefore officially representatives of the Crown…The presence of the Royal Arms explains why criminal defense lawyers and court officials bow to the judge or magistrates’ bench when they enter the room. They aren’t bowing to the judge – they are bowing to the coat of arms, to show respect for the Queen’s justice.”

The rising to the judge brings the court to order and whether you believe it is just for symbolic purposes, it does show the heightened status of the judge. Again, whether you respect him/her or not is irrelevant. At the end of the day, the judge is the one calling the shots so it is symbolically important for everyone to make a showing of deference at the outset of the proceedings.

The very real purpose is that if someone does not rise and they are not confined to a wheelchair or are otherwise physically unable to rise, it is a clear indication that they do not respect the authority of the court or the judge. The judge will probably issue a warning or admonishment to the person, or find the person in contempt in extreme cases. Regardless, the point is to deal with people who are going to be disruptive or disrespectful before they are actually dealing with the judge.

The bottom line is order.  Though you may feel contempt for the court and standing for the court is silly it bring the law and courtroom into prospective.

There are those who feel a judge is just a public servant and standing as the judge comes into the courtroom is antiquated.  Feel that a judge does not warrant such respect. Well, let them roll the dice and dishonor the court.

The Role of a Judge in a Courtroom

Wikianswers Community describes the role as to what judges do as follows:

“Interpret laws and issue orders . Judges interpret laws and issue orders for the enforcement of laws. In criminal courts, judges watch over trials to make sure that the lawyers follow the rules, and in many cases, judges decide how long someone goes to jail.

Judges also make orders to force policemen to behave properly and follow rules. If the policeman does not follow the rules, a judge might decide to let the accused criminal go free. In civil courts judges also watch trials and make sure that they lawyers follow the rules. Judges also sometimes decide who is right.

They do this when the people who are suing each other agree that they do not want a jury to decide. Judges can also throw out bad cases like when someone sues someone else for a stupid reason.”

Indeed, judges’ maybe just public servants, but they are so with a great deal of authority and are given that authority via the laws of the land. The Maryland Constitution states:

Art. 33. That the independency and uprightness of Judges are essential to the impartial administration of Justice, and a great security to the rights and liberties of the People: Wherefore, the Judges shall not be removed, except in the manner, and for the causes provided in this Constitution.

No Judge shall hold any other office, civil, or military or political trust, or employment of any kind, whatsoever, under the Constitution or Laws of this State, or of the United States, or any of them; except that a judge may be a member of a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States or a member of the militia of the United States or this State; or receive fees, or perquisites of any kind, for the discharge of his official duties (amended by Chapter 61, Acts of 1990, ratified Nov. 6, 1990). (Emphasis added.)

Maryland like all states has a judicial code of conduct. Their importance goes way beyond being simple public servants and their role in the order of society should be respected.

One interesting article found while researching was from Alex Jones’s Prison Plant stated, “Rising for the judge bowing to the state.”

Not certain that should be your mindset going into a courtroom where a judge may be determining how many years you may be spending behind prison fences or how much a fine you should pay for your nefarious deeds.

But, there is one way to get around refusing to rise before the court without being held in contempt – citing religious freedom. U.S. v. Ali, (8th Circuit) the court ruled that since the defendant, a Muslim woman, explained to the  lower court that she did not rise before the court for religious reasons she could not be cited with contempt of court.

Whether you personally feels rising before the court is silly tradition and antiquated sort of makes you a minority and disrespectful to the laws of our land. Tradition is the backbone and fiber of our nation.  Our judicial system was developed to maintain order in our land and are deserving of respect. The courtroom is where the interpretation of our laws occurs and the judges on the bench are the interpreters of our laws, good, bad or indifferent, and are equally deserving of our respect.

“All rise…”


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