Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Dress Code

Since I've been working so much, I haven't had time to do much perusing of the medblogs. I guess that's why I keep coming up with these work related posts.

I had to go to Court in another federal district this week, so I checked out the Court's website to see if the Judge had any special rules or preferences. I learned that this is always a good idea since I would be the "outsider". His dress code is as follows:

All attorneys shall dress in appropriate business attire preserving an atmosphere of dignity and respect to the Court.

While no formal dress code exists, all persons entering the courtroom are to dress in a manner respectful to the Court. Attorneys are responsible for conveying the proper attire to their clients and staff members.

While I was on the website, I thought I would check out the rules and procedures for the other judge. Her dress code is as follows:

All persons present in the courtroom must dress and conduct themselves in a manner demonstrating respect for the Court.


All persons entering the Courtroom shall refrain from chewing gum, drinking, eating, smoking, wearing hats, or reading newspapers, books, etc. in the courtroom. Counsel shall turn off his/her cell phone and instruct all parties and witnesses to do the same. All counsel and parties are expected to stand at the lectern when addressing the court or examining a witness.


Attorneys and their staff are required to wear standard business attire. Parties, witnesses and spectators shall dress appropriately and respectfully for the courtroom. No shorts, tank tops, midriff-baring or other revealing low-cut clothing, extremely short skirts, sunglasses, flip-flops, or hats shall be permitted in the courtroom. Counsel are responsible for ensuring compliance with these rules by their clients, party representatives, and witnesses. Counsel should contact the Court in advance if special accommodation is desired for a client, party representative, or witness. (emphasis added)

First, I thought it was interesting that she was so specific in her rules. Second, I thought that last sentence was funny, i.e, counsel should contact the court in advance to make special accommodations for a client that wants to wear a low cut tank top, extremely short skirt, and flip flops to Court.

I'm surprised she didn't mention perfume. I was in Court one time when the courtroom deputy stood up and announced (right after a woman left his desk) that the Judge doesn't allow any fragrances to be worn in her Courtroom. It doesn't really matter to me because I rarely wear perfume when I am working.


Lynn Price said...

Bah, I know I could never be an attorney because I'd continually fight the temptation to scream nasty things like "Judicial abuse, you power hungry, controlling hitler!" at the top of my lungs. Probably not the best move to make on my client's behalf. I'll stick to writing. In my too-short skirt and low-cut tops.

Carver said...

I was surprised in the 1990s when a woman was charged with contempt of court for wearing a skort to court. She was there for a traffic violation and ended up being charged with contempt because she argued with the judge who said she was improperly dressed. My local paper made a big deal of it because the woman charged with contempt of court wasn't your typical rabble rouser. She probably got in trouble over a garden flag too. My city had an ordinance against colorful flags beyond a certain size and all sorts of people showed their rebellion by hanging tulip flags on their front porches. I sighed over the good old days of my youth when people filled up the jails for political protest of slightly bigger issues.

Charity Doc said...

hey, what happened to my comment?

Medblog Addict said...

I didn't see no comment. Blogger must have eaten it. Give it to me again.

Charity Doc said...

Speaking of court attire, I once got a traffic ticket during residency while rotating through Neurosurgery. No it wasn't for speeding but for driving in the "parking" lane. Traffic was hell that day and I was already late, so I swerved into the inside to beat the traffic going straight and made a right turn at the intersection. I protested politely when I got pulled over but the cop said it was still illegal to do so and cited me anyway. Despite wearing surgical scrubs with a big ol' hospital badge hanging from my pocket and explaining to this cop that I was on my way to the hospital to work, the blow hard wasn't dissuaded. He was merciless and commented, "You ain't in an ambulance, doc!"

Weeks later, I decided to contest the ticket in traffic court. Hell, I was a dirt poor resident in those days making $24,000 a year, and the ticket was $90 bucks. Plus, there were no marked lanes and I only drove about 60 yards or so to make that right turn anyhow. SHEESH, everyone else does it to make that right turn, too, when traffic was backed up.

So there I was in traffic court... Since I practically lived in surgical scrubs those days, I showed up to court in the same attire that afternoon. Our team wasn't on for ER calls but we were still on call for our own patients. I'll admit it, I had conspired and pre-instructed the medical students and interns to page me every few minutes or so.

A long line had already formed when I showed up. By the time it was my turn to face the judge, he grumpily said, "So you're the guy with the annoying beeper that keeps on going off every minute."

I quickly responded, "I'm very sorry your honor but may I have your permission to answer this important page from the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit. I'll just get back to the end of the line and start over. Is there a phone I can use?" (This was the truth, BTW. A nurse did page me from the NSICU, but it turned out not to me as important as I had exaggerated, of course.)

Eyeing my scrubs and badge, the judged asked, "Are you a resident at _____ Hospital?"

"Yes, sir. I'm on call for Neurosurgery today." I answered pointing to the pager.

"Hmm....driving in the parking lane on _____ Blvd, heh?" he said after reading the papers the clerk handed him.

He then gave me a stern look, rips up the police report/ticket, and reprimanded, "Get your ass back to work, son. Don't let me catch you driving on the side of the road again."

SWEET! Got off with a stern warning. I later found out his daughter was a med/peds resident.

Medblog Addict said...

What a great story. You're very inventive and clever . . . you should have been a lawyer. We miss you Charity Doc.

Unknown said...

Hey - speaking of dress codes at Federal Courts, maybe you can help me. I landed a summer externship with a federal district court judge, and I'm wondering if I need to buy suits. I have a couple, but if I need to wear one every day, I may get another couple before I start. Is it full business attire, or is a shirt and tie ok? I know I could just call the clerk, but I guess I feel dumb about it. Thanks!

Medblog Addict said...

Congrats on the federal gig. I'm guessing suits. If it were me, I'd plan on wearing suits until they told me otherwise. Good luck!