I thought this had been tossed in the trash years ago… Imagine my amazement when I found out it had been circulating around the Courthouse for ages…
TO: JUDGE VAN HOOMISON
FROM: MARC GROBER
RE: DRESS CODES
Last week in Nenana you warned me not to wear “jean” slacks or shirts into a courtroom where you are presiding. At first blush your directive seemed simple enough, but upon further meditation
I have developed some real problems in ordering future vestments.
I present the following discussion to you in the spirit that it may prove profitable and hope that this sort of discussion may yield a formal order from each judge which may be posted on the courtroom door. This may prevent the confusion I felt, having appeared numerous times in your court in a jean shirt with jean slacks, tie and jacket. Perhaps because of the distance between bar and bench you never noticed it til now.
Specifically, what is nature of the beast you are discriminating against? The dictionary defines jean as durable twilled cotton. Denim is defined as twilled fabric which may or may not be cotton. Twill is a type of weave where weft is floated over two or more threads (both serge and gabardine are twills), as opposed for example to chambray, which is a plain weave. If I recall correctly I was at the time wearing a blue cotton chambray shirt.
I am sure you can see my dilemma. Surely you can’t be asking me to buy non-durable clothes? And I am just as sure that you can’t be proscribing twills, for most fine clothes are twill weaved (gabardine, serge, herringbone etc.) Or is it the cotton that offends? On top of it all, though my slacks were cotton twill my shirt was plain weaved • • • it would appear that the only common factors were their blueness (my favorite color) and the fact that they were cotton.
Now, is a polyester denim appropriate? I do so deplore synthetic. fabrics. I do have a Blue wool twill suit, but it is terribly stifling for spring and summer wear.
With respect to shirts, sir, I do have a cotton polyester blue denim shirt manufactured by Lee but because of the use of polyester as reinforcement I am not really sure if this is jean or not. This, however , is a shirt I have worn in your Courtroom before • • •
And while on the subject, I have worn my moose skin boots (my usual footwear) to court in the winter. Are there any guidelines as to summer footwear? I prefer my waders as that is usually what I wear, but I understand that another attorney was found in contempt for coming into Court that way.
I was recently reproached wearing a sweater instead of a sports jacket. One can only get suit coats with suits and I always thought that sports clothes were taboo in court. Are pullovers of fabric allowable? What about wrap-around sweaters and warm-up jackets? Please, what are appropriate criteria?
Some people wear hats, of course, for religious and personal reasons. For example, many chassids (a Jewish sect I have admired) wear large black broad brimmed felt hats everywhere. Indeed many feel it is virtually sacrilegious to bare your head to anybody or anything. My grandfather’s generation felt much the same about their Bogart-style hats. I know that there are many cases in this area, for
example can an attorney who is a priest wear his religious costume to court. Certainly there are First Amendment questions that need to be considered here.
Lastly, After reading the Friedman case I hope we don’t have to tangle with “conservative business-dress”. Nenana is as conservative as they come but business men here almost never wear jacket and tie and one successful business man wears well used work pants, suspenders, and T-shirt. Not to mention that I saw Governor Hammond on the TV the other night giving us the business and he didn’t even have a tie on • • •
Personally I’d get a kick out of wearing a black robe like yours (they do it that way in England you know)! That way you wouldn’t have to worry about what my clothes were made of and I might even get a tax deduction out of it • • •