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Dressing For Court

(File photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

(File photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Can you be sanctioned for being badly dressed in court?

When Amanda Bynes showed up to court in a blue wig, it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. But you’d be surprised how many people show up to court dressed inappropriately who don’t realize that what you wear to court is not just a matter of good taste, but can actually be a legal issue if your attire shows disrespect for the court.

Almost all counties have dress codes for jury duty, which require jurors to be well-groomed and neatly attired. Contempt of court is behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice, and dignity of the court, and there have been cases of people held in contempt of court for failing to dress appropriately, like the Alabama defendant sanctioned for saggy pants, a woman whose T-shirt was sexually explicit or the defendant being sentenced for murder whose t-shirt said “killer”. Genius.

While people often cite their right to freedom of expression, a simple dislike of being told what to do or how to dress is not an acceptable reason not to comply with a courthouse dress code but generally only wins where there is religious garb or a political statement involved.

Look, very few people show up to court because they want to be there. No need to give the judge another reason to keep you there.

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