If you are defending your eviction by appearing in court to answer an unlawful detainer lawsuit, there are two major areas to think about before your court appearance.
Your Appearance: Perhaps as a child your parents dictated how you should look when you went to church. Or perhaps you were instructed on how to dress professionally when you were applying for a job. If you experienced these things, they will be helpful in remembering how you should appear when you go to court.
Do you remember the old cliché “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?” This is true in court. While I hate to say that people will make judgments about you based on your appearance, sadly this is more true than not.
Therefore, you should consider dressing in a semi-professional manner for this formal setting. Walking through the hallways of the courthouse, I’ve seen all manner of dress, and sometimes I’ve wondered if that person considered how they wanted to appear to others.
Your Records: If you defending yourself and are using a defense such as the landlord making an error in calculating the unpaid rent (see my blog post “Your Eviction: Typical Defenses”), you should bring multiple copies of all your financial records. Other defenses will require different evidence. Your records should be neatly organized and readily accessible.
Going to court by yourself can be confusing. You could be nervous about fighting your eviction. You may wish to consult with and attorney experienced in fighting for your tenant rights who can guide you to make a more effective defense of your case.