Honestly, this shouldn’t be the topic of a blog post. It should go without saying that anyone appearing in court should know to dress professionally. But the past few weeks of court makes me think, “yep, some people really need to be told how to dress.”
A few weeks ago I was sitting in court waiting on the Judge to call the docket. This particular docket happened to be for domestic violence defendants who were on bond (out of jail waiting for their cases to be handled). As the Judge was calling through the names (I’m looking down, reading through some paperwork), she pauses and the courtroom falls silent. I look up and here is a defendant, accused of domestic assault, standing before the judge wearing a bright green shirt. On the shirt is a picture of a fence, leaning against the fence are three or four garden hoes, and below the picture, in large print the shirt reads, “I keep my hoes in line.” Needless to say, this did not go over well.
A couple weeks before this, I had a client; accused of DUI, appear in court on his trial status date wearing a shirt with the word “Reckless” printed in large block lettering across the front.
Every day I see people charged with possession of drugs come to court with shirts, or pants, or socks covered in pictures of marijuana leaves. I see shirts with a picture of Scarface sitting in front of a pile of cocaine.
I tell all my clients, “I will do everything I can to represent you and get the best possible outcome for you, but you have to be your own advocate as well.” This means, be in court on time and dressed appropriately.
So what should you wear? If you have a suit, or business casual clothing, wear it. Look presentable, look like you care about your own freedom. If you don’t have a suit, wear a button down/collared shirt and slacks or even jeans, just tuck your shirt in.
This is simple. Just remember, showing up looking like you care will only help; showing up like you don’t care will only hurt you and your attorney’s ability to negotiate on your behalf.