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Lombardi Law Firm

Cleavage in the Courtroom - It’s Court, Not A Cocktail Party

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death

Blog Category:
9/4/2014
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Maybe some women shouldn’t be trial lawyers. Maybe, just maybe their sense of fashion is getting in the way of doing their job, the administering of justice and representing their clients. Remember the client? You know the ones who are too poor to care about the label on their clothing; the same clients who shop at Goodwill. They are supposed to be your focus not your shoes, your purse, how much cleavage you can show or how much thigh pops out when you sit at counsel’s table. Court isn’t the place where you try to out-fashion your opponent. Get a clue, court is not a fashion show and if you think it is you’re there for all the wrong reasons.

Last time I checked it is an opening or closing statement and not a fashion statement.

When I try a case I will wear the same blue suit jacket, the one with gold buttons, every day. I hardly ever change it. Why? Because I’m trying to fade into the background so the judge or jury can focus on the evidence and the issues and not me.

Hell, I’m abrasive enough even when trying to fade into the woodwork, can you imagine if I tried standing out because of the shoes I wear?

I’m not there to parade in front of the judge, jury, the bailiffs, court attendants, vagrants, criminals and spectators all waiting to see the newest Jimmy Choo’s.

I’ve sat in court with a female attorney wearing no nylons, legs oiled and/or lotioned up as if they were on a date while in another case have had to sit in chambers having to look the other way for fear of being accused of being a lecherous old man because I was caught staring at the headlights shining in my face. The cleavage at times is unavoidable and disrespectful.  

I’ve been told by male judges we can’t talk about hunting, fishing, firearms or football because one of the lawyers arguing before the court would be a female. Then I’ve been told by the lone male attorney in a case that the female judge, court attendant, and prosecutor each discussed purses and shoes for 15 minutes in chambers before anyone thought about discussing the case. I’ve even answered a survey about whether a suit jacket and beige pants are acceptable attire for men to be in court. (I’m serious.) On this issue women are more sexist than men would ever dare be. 

Now Judge Taylor of Rutherford County is attempting to enforce a dress code that affects female lawyers and he’s become a story in a blog on the Wall Street Journal. The point they wish to argue is whether he’s a villain, out of touch with reality or just downright sexist. Judge Taylor is none of the above, I suspect like me he and many of the lawyer’s are sick and tired of looking at cleavage and thighs in the courtroom.

Sometimes I feel like we are dealing with a petulant child when this issue is discussed.

I’ve looked at this from both sides and wonder how I would be received if my shirt were unbuttoned half way down my bare chest that I flaunted around the courtroom. I’m sure our Chief Judge would fine me within seconds of crossing the bar and no one would blink an eye. Why then do female lawyers get to do the same and men are considered villains for saying anything; enough is enough.

Down in Rutherford County, Tennessee, Judge Royce Taylor had received complaints about the way women were dressing, and he decided to put a stop to it. After all, if the issue is a “major discussion point” during bar committee meetings, then perhaps you do belong in the fashion victims unit. Above The Law (See below)

Let's face facts; if you look like you’re heading out the door to a cocktail lounge it’s not appropriate. This is a one sided argument that wastes the Court’s patience. If a judge wants to tell me to wear only blue, then I’ll wear only blue; if the judge likes bow ties I’ll learn how to tie one. If you become a judge you get to say what goes on in your courtroom. And that goes for female judges as well. But keep in mind the courts have always had as their focus the administration of justice in an impartial manner, not selling fashion. Far from it because many of those who come before the court can’t afford food, let alone fashion. Women need to understand this is an old staid profession with tradition and respect for the idea of justice, the court and dignity. Cleavage, somehow to me, has little to do with dignity. If you want to turn your place of employment into a fashion runway do it in a corporate setting and not in the  courthouse. I for one am tired of the distractions that take away from the reasons why you’re supposed to be in court to begin with; and I applaud Judge Taylor. A lawyers reasons for getting dressed in the morning should be to represent a client, not Jimmy Choo or Michael Kors or any of the other fashion houses in New York, London or Paris.

And one more thing, whoever took my iconic Burberry Light Green Trenchcoat return the damn thing.

Here is the blog about Judge Taylor.

Ladies, Just Because It’s Summertime Doesn’t Mean You Can Show Skin in Court

By STACI ZARETSKY



Category: General


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