Going to court in the Valley? Here's what not to wear

There’s no court of appeals if you’re dressed inappropriately when appearing before a judge.

Flip-flops, sandals, ball caps, blue jeans, midriff tops, shorts and T-shirts work as beach wear, gardening attire or casual clothes. But some people wear such apparel to court — or try to.

Some courts post guidelines; some may use the words “dress appropriately” in hearing notices.

Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen A. Cronin, who was a judge for 13 years before her retirement July 1, said there is no written dress code, noting that attorneys advise clients about “appropriate dress.”

What’s “appropriate” is the crux of the matter.

Judge Cronin gave the example of an attractive young woman in a pink halter top and pink stilettos. Her matching pink capris and purse were “OK.” The judge asked the woman, — “do you think you’re dressed appropriately?” — to which the woman replied, “I thought so.” The judge told her that the halter top was unacceptable, and sent her home. The woman, who reappeared a short time later in an acceptable pink shirt, told the judge she had run across town and bought it.

Judge Cronin admitted men have an edge over women. “A man can put on a golf shirt and khakis and look fine,” she said. “A woman has more body parts to expose.” Unfortunately, sometimes those parts are out there. “No stomach or breasts should be showing,” Judge Cronin said.

The worst outfit ever

Judge Cronin recalled an incident last summer of the “worst outfit” she had ever seen. “An overweight, voluptuous woman had on a tube top with fur on the top, no bra ... and short shorts and flip-flops,” Judge Cronin said. When the judge told the woman she was not attired appropriately, the woman retorted, “Maybe I’m just hot.”

The exchange escalated and the judge found the woman in contempt. That’s the only time that happened.

Judge R. Scott Krichbaum, also of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, said there is “no formal policy. I expect people to dress like they’re going to church, a wedding or a funeral,” said the judge, who has been on the bench 17 years.

“If they’re appearing before me for the first time and not dressed appropriately, I advise them to look around the courtroom and see how they should be dressed,” he said, referring to lawyers, court staff and jurors. “Women should not wear revealing clothes ... halter tops,” he said.

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on Vindy.com

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