Another “dirty old man” post?

For a question about sexism and the law and what judges should or should not do about male lawyers who refuse to wear socks to court, please read Joe Patrice, Judge To Attorney: Put On Some Damn Socks!, Above the Law, (September 3, 2014). Incidentally, I never get tired of reading about what others thought about my earlier fox paw entitled On being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress. Thanks to Mr. Patrice for obliging.*

After reading Patrice’s post about judicial foot fetishes and the judge who chastised a lawyer for revealing his near naked feet in the courtroom, a question occurred to me. Is there such a thing as jock shaming?


*After the obligatory “not that [Kopf’s earlier post] should be tolerated,” Patrice states: “implicit in Judge Kopf’s post is the fact that he doesn’t make hard and fast rules in his courtroom and he leaves it to the lawyers to figure out the right balance.” Except for Birkenstocks, that’s true, Joe.



9 responses

  1. Well, I would not put a sock requirement in the local rules of the court. But, it does seem silly to put your client at possible risk just because you do not like socks.

  2. Judge
    just when I thought i was out they pull me back in- After a really trying day I thank you for this post that cracked a smile from me in spite of myself. This post of course reminded me of some of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies and a bonus link at the end. For my money the suit was THE Greatest moment in movies for men’s fashion. Congratulations to you and your family on your new granddaughter
    1. Vinny Gambini: My clients…
    Judge Chamberlain Haller: What are you wearing?
    Vinny Gambini: Huh?
    Judge Chamberlain Haller: What are you wearing?
    Vinny Gambini: [wearing a black leather jacket] Um… I’m wearing clothes.
    [the Judge angrily stares ominously at Vinny]
    Vinny Gambini: I… I don’t get the question.
    Judge Chamberlain Haller: When you come into my court looking like you do, you not only insult me, but you insult the integrity of this court!
    Vinny Gambini: I apologise, sir, but, uh… this is how I dress.
    Judge Chamberlain Haller: Fine. I’ll let you off this one time. The next time you appear in my court, you will look lawyerly. And I mean you comb your hair, and wear a suit and tie. And that suit had better be made out of some sort of… cloth. You understand me?
    Vinny Gambini: [not comprehending] Uh… yes. Fine, Judge, fine.

    2.Vinny Gambini: [Following argument about Vinny’s clothing style, Vinny looks confused] You were serious about that?
    [cuts straight to Vinny behind bars]

    3.Vinny Gambini: [about his secondhand suit, which has an 18th-century look and is red] I bought a suit. You seen it. Now it’s covered in mud. This town doesn’t have a one hour cleaner so I had to buy a new suit, except the only store you could buy a new suit in has got the flu. Got that? The whole store got the flu so I had to get this in a second hand store. So it’s either wear the leather jacket, which I know you hate, or this. So, I wore this ridiculous thing for you.
    Judge Chamberlain Haller: Are you on drugs?
    Vinny Gambini: No. I don’t do drugs.
    Judge Chamberlain Haller: I don’t like your attitude.

  3. Dear Hapless thee toad the one true Lord of the Flies,

    While Vinny was great, Judge Haller (the late lamented Fred Gwynne) was my favorite. I suppose that is because his evidence rulings mirrored my own:

    Vinny Gambini: I object to this witness being called at this time. We’ve been given no prior notice he’d testify. No discovery of any tests he’s conducted or reports he’s prepared. And as the court is aware, the defense is entitled to advance notice of any witness who will testify, particularly to those who will give scientific evidence, so that we can properly prepare for cross-examination, as well as to give the defense an opportunity to have the witness’s reports reviewed by a defense expert, who might then be in a position to contradict the veracity of his conclusions.
    [there is a short pause as Judge Haller appears caught off-guard by Vinny’s sudden compentence with knowledge of the law]
    Judge Chamberlain Haller: Mr. Gambini?
    Vinny Gambini: Yes, sir?
    Judge Chamberlain Haller: That is a lucid, intelligent, well thought-out objection.
    Vinny Gambini: Thank you, Your Honor.
    Judge Chamberlain Haller: [firm tone] Overruled.

    Sorry about your day. Hold on. Tomorrow’s Friday.

    All the best.


  4. I’m with Mr. Crane above. If I had my way, I’d dress much more casually for court. But I’m not there for myself. I represent a client and implicit in that is my agreement to comport myself in a way that will not unnecessarily create friction with the court. If I were a judge, I’d probably worry more about the other end of the lawyer and what he or she has to say, but this judge feels otherwise. The lawyer shouldn’t spar with the judge at the expense of the lawyer’s effectiveness for his client.

  5. Judge, this is somewhat timely. I was just at a required professionalism seminar last week for new members of the Virginia State Bar, and at the tail end of the day, matters of attire were brought up.

    Some of the members of the Virginia state judiciary that were present last week noted concern about what was appropriate dress for the men and women appearing in their courtrooms. For women, the concerns focused on the necklines of the shirts or blouses worn. The moderator of the day sternly told the assembled audience that women should find a way to cover up their necklines. And when the same judges were asked about an equivalent sartorial pet peeve for male lawyers, it was the lack of socks . . . .

  6. The previous comments get it right, and I’d just like to add that Patrice is wrong in calling out the judge for spending time on this. He did not ridicule the lawyer in open court, or–apparently–interrupt the proceedings. He admonished counsel privately. Indeed, the judge did exactly what he should have done, because as we all know, when we are in court, we are there for our clients, not ourselves. (Unless we have a fool for a client.)

  7. Alex,

    Very interesting. It would be fascinating to know whether new women lawyers were offended about the discussion on necklines and blouses. Of course, I wouldn’t expect any new lawyer to speak publicly, but if you get a chance find out what your female colleagues thought and then share their collective views with the rest of us. Of course, no names or identifiers.

    All the best.


  8. Judge’s house–judge’s rules. How hard is that? Bellyaching about dress rules is a petty ego trip.

    I’d like to appear in court in jeans and a plain, white t-shirt with a cigarette pack rolled in one sleeve, and a cig dangling from the corner of my mouth, a can of beer in one hand. I’m a ’50s kind of guy.

    But the judge might demur from that, and throw his hot water bottle at me. So I wouldn’t.

    Eric Hines

  9. As is the case with most “rules” about what you should wear in court, it is highly dependent on geography. A Hawaiin shirt would be extremely out of place at a deposition in Little Rock (where I live), but my Hawaiian attorney friends tell me that’s the norm in Hawaii. I often wear a nice dress instead of a suit for hearings (not for a trial) and that’s perfectly appropriate here. I know many male attorneys who don’t wear socks to the office (the look you pictured is popular with attorneys my age here), but I can’t recall seeing anyone doing that in court. In any event, there is a local rule and when it was brought to his attention, he should have complied and taken his issues up with the proper committee later. You don’t risk your client getting an unfavorable ruling in order to make a point about socks.

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