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News: Dress Code

It is Friday morning. As I sit at the back of the courtroom, waiting for the docket to begin, mine eyes are drawn to the long, sad windows on the West wall of the vast, wood laden room. Outside, the fog is lifting, heralding the birth of a day anew. Yet, the angry skies to the North loom menacingly, threatening to wash away the fledgling hopes of sunny warmth. A sharp pain suddenly courses through my left foot. I instinctively turn toward my already throbbing appendage and I am met with a host of brilliantly colored butterflies, fluttering restlessly amid a turbulent ocean of flesh. My gaze rises through wave upon wave of tummy until the sunken eyes belonging to what I imagine was once a human face now stare angrily back at me. A sudden screech emits from engorged lips, morbidly beautified by a sharp silver ring. "Excuse you!" So dies my fleetingly whimsical daydream of rainy silence. So begins the criminal misdemeanor docket at the Cleveland County Courthouse.

The judicial process can be long, cumbersome and infinitely exasperating. There are so many rules, written and unwritten, that are nearly impossible to know unless you are an attorney and have been through the process before. One such unwritten rule, however, is too simple to ignore and may greatly increase your chances in front of the bench.

Whether you are in front of the judge for a hearing on a family matter or seeking resolution on a traffic violation, dress appropriately. When an attorney goes before a judge, in almost every courtroom in America, he or she must don attire that shows respect for the situation and respect for the court. In this way, the arguments to be spewed forth are taken with a spoonful of sugar, rather than a grain of salt.

The gentleman who appears to beg mercy from the judge and promises that he is a hardworking, law abiding citizen would do well to not wear pajama pants and house shoes. The mother who swears to the judge that her housekeeping and maternal skills are the envy of Florence Henderson, should maybe take the cigarette out from behind her ear and keep her skirt at least below her hip bones. This is a lesson in common sense that may prove invaluable in critical and stormy court proceedings. Show respect for the judge and his or her courtroom and the cold steel of the law may be cast in your favor.

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