You’ve heard the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Perhaps you even believe it and practice it in regards to people. So, perhaps you’re thinking, “It shouldn’t matter how I dress for court, I should simply be judged in regards to the merits of the case.” Maybe you’re right and maybe in a perfect world that would be the way that it is. But you would probably agree that this is not the time to make things harder on yourself. There is another old expression “honey attracts more flies than vinegar”. No one is going to get a favorable verdict or sentence simply on the basis of good clothes and behavior but the opposite can happen with bad clothes or behavior.
So, how should you dress? If you were looking for a job you would know the answer to this question. Isn’t your freedom even more important? So, the general rule is to dress conservatively and businesslike. You don’t have to go full formal; you’re not going to the Oscars. But a shirt, tie and no hat on men is generally recommended; keep jewelry to a wedding band and watch. For women a pantsuit or conservative blouse and skirt is recommended; keep jewelry minimal and tasteful.
There is a limit to this dressing up to keep in mind. Are you the kind of person who can afford and generally wears tailored suits, cufflinks, furs, nice jewelry, etc.? There is nothing wrong with these items but If so, in your case you may want to dress down a little. You do want to show respect to the court so you will want your attire to be professional. However, you also do not want to alienate the jury. Realize that for most jurors these items will be out of their price range. So if you choose to wear these types of things you may accidentally distance yourself from the jury and they may not even realize you’ve done so – it’s one of those things that would work on a more subconscious level.
Also, do not dress up so much that you are u comfortable. Behavior caused from discomfort can look surprisingly similar to behavior caused by guilt. After all, guilty people are often uncomfortable with being judged since they know they did it. Do not send the judge, jury or prosecutor the wrong message for a poor reason. Dress as nicely as you ar comfortably dressing.
Along the same lines – realize that the jury is selected from across the citizenry. They will probably not all be like you. Get yourself a professional haircut and cover up any tattoos. If you have any piercings you will probably want to choose to leave those out. The more non-descript and professional looking that you can make yourself look is the better for you as that is the most comfortable attire and appearance for anyone to feel an affinity.
How you act is even more important. It is very unwise to upset the judge or jurors by your behavior.
Show up on time. The judge may have some leniency on late attorneys; after all, they may have cases in other courtrooms. But they are going to know that this is your only case. The judge is going to feel that if he has to show up on time to your case then so should you. In fact, some judges take this so seriously that it has been known to happen that they’ve put late defendants back into custody. Only speak when directly questioned. Do not interrupt the other witnesses. For your own sake, don’t talk with your lawyer while witnesses are being questioned by the prosecution – he needs to hear that testimony. Do not interrupt your lawyer while he is questioning witnesses – judges don’t like it and it may throw him off which is detrimental to you. If you believe something was missed by him or just remembered something ask for a private conference; this is generally approved and is much more appreciated by the court. Always address everyone respectfully; the proper way to address the judge is “your Honor”. As you can see, it’s just general courtesy rules with a few court specifics.
This is simply advice on how to present yourself in the court. As you probably noticed, it is certainly not legal advice on the particulars of your case. You do need that and for that you need the assistance of a Pierce County / Tacoma DUI defense attorney. Call Smith & White, PLLC to discuss your specific case – the first consult is free.