15 July 2005

Come Again

When you have a female judge:

Women get away with some of the most outrageous clothing choices when they come to court. I think this is because male judges (who wouldn't hesitate to dress down a male dressed inappropriately) have the old fashioned notions that it is not their place to comment on a female's clothing. However, today I was in a court with a female judge.

A young woman walked into the court with a not quite see through blouse that looked like it had been painted on, no bra, and everything+ that a young woman is supposed to have. All eyes male in the room looked up as she walked up to the bench.

The judge was looking down at the paperwork as the young woman walked up. Then the judge looked up and this conversation took place:

Judge: To begin with, that clothing is not adequate for court. Where do you live?

Woman: Here in the county.

Judge: Deputy, how much longer are you going to be in court today?

Deputy: This is my last case.

Judge: Okay, what's your next court date?

Deputy: 25 October.

Judge: We're continuing this case until 25 October. Ms. Smith you will come back to court on 25 October wearing appropriate clothes. Good day.


Anonymous said...

While this happens from time to time, I wonder what the point is ?

Ken Lammers said...

A sense of decorum. There are places which require some respect; a courtroom is one of them.

Now, I realize that not everyone has a suit or fancy dress clothes but the best pair of jeans and a normal shirt is fine.

I've seen men threatened with contempt for clothes they've worn to court; this is the first time I've seen anything happen to a woman. I don't know if some women don't know better, don't care, or are trying to use the judge's id to overwhelm his ego and superego. I just know I've seen some amazing things worn to court by women without getting called on it.

Another attorney who was in the courthouse today opined that he didn't think that sending her away to come back later was the proper way to handle this. He thought that the judge should determine part of her sentence for each defendant based on how much respect their dress showed the court. Maybe that would work but it's not something you could announce in court and without telling someone that s/he is getting X days in jail because of clothes they probably won't get it. If the judge tells the person that person will probably appeal on that issue.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think that the male judges are afraid they'll be reported for some sort of sexual impropriety if they seem to notice provocative clothing?

I'm a high school teacher, and I know male teachers who wouldn't dream of saying anything to female students about dress code, but clearly notice it and comment in the teachers' lounge.

I'm not thinking the judges would be sued. Just bothered by a professional organization or something.

Anonymous said...

Let me second Anonymous's previous comment. A friend (high school teacher) once told a girl, whose thong was showing, to dress more appropriately. The student reported the teacher for sexual harassment. Male judges likely fear a similar complaint.

Anonymous said...

I am not clear whether the woman who was reprimanded was an attorney or not. The tag line in the newsletter that led to the article said that the judge had reprimanded an attorney for inappropriate dress. From the story and the comments, sounds like she wasn't. In any event (and obviously more so if this was an attorney), I think the judge acted appropriately.

Anonymous said...

I was in court a couple of months ago when a female defendant had her case called. she stood up and told the Judge that her attorney wasn't there yet, he was in a hearing in another court. Judge didn't have a problem with that, the attorney had called and lef ta message telling the Judge about that. However, the Judge told the woman that what she was wearing, black low cut T-shirt with shorts shorts, was not proper for court and ordered to go home and change clothes, then return immediately to Court.

Interestingly enough. later that day, the Judge threw a male attorney out of the courtroom for not wearing a tie to Court.

Anonymous said...

Was she an attorney? I've seen female PDs come to court in animal-print capri pants. But I've also seen guys in state court wearing navy sport coats w/ navy Dockers, thinking the outfit can pass for a matching suit. Hang out at state court for a few hours and you see some interesting outfits, on both parties and lawyers. The citing that stands out the most for me was a party in eviction court, who showed up in a white tank top and no bra. She was a big girl, so it was obvious. The judge told her she was dressed inappropriately and to come back with something better. A few hours later, she showed up w/ a tight white t-shirt over the tank top, so I guess she was adverse to bras or something.