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Man jailed for wearing jeans

Published: Fri, February 12, 2010 @ 12:06 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken

  Dressing for Success

When it comes to law, bring your best suit. Judge Scott R. Krichbaum insists upon appropriate dress for his courtroom. In particular, blue jeans are not allowed.

When it comes to law, bring your best suit. Judge Scott R. Krichbaum insists upon appropriate dress for his courtroom. In particular, blue jeans are not allowed.


John Messer

YOUNGSTOWN — A judge has jailed a former Poland Avenue bar owner until further notice for arriving at court wearing blue jeans in violation of the judge’s previous command.

Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court ordered John Messer, owner of the former Riverbend Tavern, who had been free on $75,000 bond, to change into a red-and white-striped jail uniform before appearing at a pretrial hearing on drug-trafficking charges in the judge’s chambers.

“What are you doing here improperly dressed for my court?,” the judge asked Messer at the start of Thursday’s hearing.

“I’m sorry, your honor,” Messer replied.

“Sorry does not pay the rent. The last time you were here, you were advised to dress properly for this court,” the judge fumed. “You’re contemptuous. You’re making a bad mistake with me, mister,” the judge added.

Messer’s trial had been set to begin Tuesday, but the judge postponed it to March 8, with a final pretrial hearing at 10 a.m. March 4.

The judge granted the delay, which he rarely authorizes, at the request of Messer’s lawyer, Mark Lavelle, and Martin P. Desmond, an assistant county prosecutor, who sought the postponement because Messer’s previous lawyer, Dennis DiMartino, last week received a one-year disciplinary suspension from law practice.

Messer, 58, of Raccoon Road, Austintown, was indicted on 17 counts of drug trafficking, reportedly occurring between July and October 2009, and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity between July and November 2009, all pertaining to alleged events at the Riverbend Tavern.

The drug-trafficking counts pertain to sales of cocaine and prescription pills (Vicodin and Oxycontin).

The former bar at 1105 Poland Ave. has been boarded up since Nov. 5, when city Prosecutor Jay Macejko obtained from Judge Krichbaum a temporary restraining order, which closed the bar as a public nuisance.

In a Nov. 5 raid, police said they seized suspected illegal drugs and video-gambling machines at the bar.

Macejko said an undercover informant made 13 controlled purchases of suspected crack cocaine and prescription pills at the bar over four months.

Last month, Judge Krichbaum and Magistrate Timothy G. Welsh signed a preliminary injunction keeping the bar closed as a public nuisance until further notice.



1woolyd(579 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Wow Krichbaum is being an A$$. All the problems we have in this community and hes worried about this mans jeans. Thats just a bit silly to me your a Judge not Jesus.

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2mikeymike(469 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I have seen this happen before,It's called respect for the court.The article said,Kirchbaum warned him once already.I have read articles in the plain dealer,where the same thing has happened,in Cleveland courts.It's his court room he can enforce any dress code he wants.This happens more often than you know,in the summer you can't wear shorts and sandles.

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3mikeymike(469 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Woolyd most judges don't think they are Jesus,they think they are GOD .

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4dreamcatcher52(140 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I can see a dress code that bans offensive or revealing clothing, but anything else is ridiculous. Jeans can look neater than some other types of clothes. Then you start getting into too many subjective issues about what is "respectful" dress and what is not. I also don't believe the courtroom belongs to the judge. It belongs to us. The judge is using it to hear a case. Putting a guy in jail for wearing jeans is stupid. Some judges are on a power trip. This guy sounds like a lowlife, but in our system, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. At least that's the way it's supposed to work.

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5aeparish(669 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Granted, he should have dressed more appropriately... but they're going to jail someone for wearing jeans?

Perhaps instead Mr. Messer should have worn bagging sweatpants and let them hang halfway down his rear end. Maybe then he would have been given a break.

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6ytowngramma(39 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Did Mahoning County spring for new inmate garb? Last I knew the jail attire was orange not red and white. Also, if he was "free on $75,000.00 bond" he wouldnt/shouldnt have access to jail attire. Judge Kirchbaum rules "his courtroom" according to what side of the bed he wakes up on, not what case/case info is before him. Lets continue to jail people for their attire and let the gang banging shoot 'em up homies out on a reduced bond!

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7Woody(482 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

My Cousin Vinny!!!

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8Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

This was a little bit extreme.

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9BrothaLove(81 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I am actually surprised at the comments I am reading. Where and when did we as a society lose respect for the courts to the point where anything is acceptable in a courtroom. It is wrong to advocate the removal of a judge for simply demanding that this man follow the rules set by the court — a relatively simple rule at that. If he cannot do this then he should be sanctioned.

For those who disagree, would you rather have a judge that allows anything to take place in the court with little to no structure?

Consider this, we all complain about the way young people dress with the sagging pants etc. If these teens, and the adults who still have not learned, do not have proper examples to follow how can they ever learn what is proper dress for an adult?

Judge Krichbaum is simply setting a standard, making grown men follow that standard and therefore setting an example for younger people to follow.

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10mikeymike(469 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I think some of you are missing the fact,Kirchbaum told him previously not to dress,improperly.He was directed by the Judge,not to wear improper attire,the first time..What did you think he would do,when he showed up in jeans the second time.This is contempt,thats why he is in jail.It's not because of wearing jeans.

Beleive it or not there are standards that must be followed,when dealin with courts and the legal system.

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11sq51(11 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

It sounds like the judge is on a POWER trip.. While jeans may not be appropriate for court, a jail jumpsuit for someone who is out on bond is also a rediculous thing to require. Why don't we concern ourselves with the offense at hand and deal with it while not creating things to tie up our court/ jail system.

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12mikeymike(469 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

PffeDogg you clearly lack any type of intelligence,you talk like a thug off of the streets.
All you are are empty words,acting like you got street cred,when in fact your an A$$ Hole.

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13AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Maybe the taxpayers and voters of Mahoning County should require this judge to wear a "I Love The Cafaros" T-Shirt. (Justa reminder to the "free" ride he accepted on their plane)

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14woolyd(579 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

There should always be respect for the courtroom and rules should be followed I agree. But its obvious that if you have lived in this area for a while you have heard about Krichbaum being strict and sometimes over stepping his boundries. Krichbaum sometimes is too full of himself and the court should use this type of authority when dealing with those who deserve it the most. IE, Jamar Houser and those type of thugs.
Mikeymike thats the problem in law enforcement today they worry about the little stuff and not the major issues. Also there are too many judges and cops who abuse the law because they are on a power trip and let politics, emotion, etc dictate what they do. Trust me as a individual working in the CJ System sometimes your overego, power hungry coworkers cause more problems then those they are supervising.

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15mikeymike(469 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

woolyd I agree with you regarding,there are too many judges and law enforcement officers,who are on a major power trip.I have experienced it first hand,we as the public have no power or recourse,I know not to say anything that would cause a reaction,from the powers to be.

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16henryviii1509(274 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

It is safer for the judge to "bark" at a middle-aged, white, former businessman than it is a young, tough,black street-thug.

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17Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Sad but does seem to be the case.

Personally, I would dress appropriate but putting him in jail over jeans. I don't see how that is contempt even if he told him to dress appropriate.
I don't see no rules on the dress code, except for common sense, but other courts that have a dress policy is as follows.


None say no jeans (except ripped or torn).

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18Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

henryviii1509 :

"It is safer for the judge to "bark" at a middle-aged, white, former businessman than it is a young, tough,black street-thug."

Street thugs have a lot of clout in town . The cocaine train brings in the dough and has many stops in Youngstown .

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19Woody(482 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago


I think the article needs a little more clarification. I dubt being out on bond, that the judge would require him to wear prison clothes to the hearing at the outset. More then likely, he showed up in jeans. The Judge found him in contempt, and ordered him to then change into prison issue, before continuing with the hearing.

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20fitnessbuff(57 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

He may have not been aware of his hearing, had to hurry to court on time & did not have time to dress appropriately for court? Does the court notify of hearings or is it the job of the attorney office?

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21mikeymike(469 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

From my experience both parties get a notice,the attorney and the person going to court.The attorney also should contact his client,to touch base.

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22nikki1007(3 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I think you all should no what is going on his atty. called him and told him to get to court now he was at work and thats what he had on. for this judge to put him in jail is crazy. what the hell we have the kid who killed the 80 year old lady who was out on bond for gun charges who should of never been on the streets, and we have a hard working man who ran a bar and just because people have sold drugs there they are puting it on him ,charge every bar owner then because i can walk into any bar in youngstown and get some kind of drug. this judge is a joke you need to worry about people on the streets killing other people for no damn reason not what a man has on. get a life krichbaum you are acting like cronin.

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23dreamcatcher52(140 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I still don't see what's wrong with jeans. What are you supposed to wear? Do you need a suit and tie, khakis, black dress pants? Would black or dark-wash jeans be ok? Maybe he doesn't own any church clothes. Are sweats permitted? I still say you can reasonably ban offensive things (like tshirts with crude stuff on them) and too-revealing clothes.His lawyer should have argued that it was all the client had to wear. As long as you show up at court on time and speak respectfully to the judge, I don't see how clothes can show disrespect.

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24HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Typical valley, we let the real criminals out with a slap on the wrist and a guy wears jeans and he gets jailed. Moral of story, crime is OK if you do it to the citizens, just don't disobey the judge.

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25Millie(192 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I am disppointed with the judge. Maybe all the fellow owned were blue jeans? People go to church and funerals in them and wear them to work in professional environments. Would he have jailed a woman for wearing jeans and how many others who were before him were jailed for wearing jeans? I agree with some of the others about the hanging pants were they sent to jail? The judge should have given him a break merely on the fact that his attorney had recently been suspended --that is a member of his own profession - what did he say about that?

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26nikki1007(3 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I think im going to the court house with a picket sighn monday to let this man out of jail, they say it is so overcrowded that they let people with violent crimes out on bond because they have to, then they go kill people while out on bond, but let a man go to court with jeans on and off to jail with no bond, im so tired of youngstown and there way of runing stuff get jim bo back in there to run this city. this judge should be thrown off the bench.

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27urbanview(9 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps I am missing something! Why are there so many people focused on a man being sent to jail because he wore jeans when that is not what happen. This guy is in jail, not because the judge thinks he is God, or because he wore jeans but he is in jail because he thought that he did not have to listen of follow the judge's instruction. He didn’t get a phone call that said, “hey we need you to get to the court ASAP, how soon can you make it”. No, he got up that morning fully aware of his earlier encounter with the judge and intentionally went into court knowing that he was not in compliance with the judge’s wishes and thought he could talk his way around it. He is in jail, and rightfully so, because of the attitude that he espoused and decided to act out. Perhaps he was taking some of the drugs he was accused of trafficking but this is about his attitude. I don’t think the outcome would have been any different if the judge had previously told him not to come in court chewing gum, or with a comb in his hair. It’s not about the jeans. My father told me “if you’re in a place where you have to argue about authority then you don’t have it”. I don’t think the judge was arguing.

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28woolyd(579 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

URBANVIEW How do you know the circumstances of this mans court date?

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29Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Do you know exactly what happened? Or why he was commended to change into jail attire for a pretrial in the judges chambers? We only go by what the media puts out. Maybe you can inform us with facts.

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30omega(7 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

That space could've been used for some one more of a danger to the community.The judge locked him up for wearing jeans to court(wow).He must be on thin ice in that courtroom.

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31BiggD357(9 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I've been following this case extensively and I am starting to believe that this judge really has it out for the guy. They close his bar as a "nuisance" when there were never any complaints made against the bar. Then, the whole gambling machine issue is rediculous. There were three machines inside the bar which were placed there by an outside company, before Messer even opened the bar. The previous owner told him that they were perfectly legal and that he never had any issues. On South ave. there are at least 6 bars that I am aware of that have these "criminal tools" and now I see that a place on Midlothian, next to Gino's, has opened an Internet Palace (this building is filled with the same exact "criminal tools" as the Riverbend had). What the reports didn't tell you was, when the bar was raided in November there were four customers that were caught with various drugs on them and not one of them were charged. They were told to walk away and not look back. What happened to these people. NOTHING. I've frequented many bars over the last 20 years and could tell you that every single one of them had some kind of drug activity inside. Who should get punished for that, the bar owner or the actual people involved. If you check the records, Messer was never warned about his clothing. Why don't the justice system go after the right people and lock up the area's killers and robbers, instead of going after this guy for wearing brand new denim jeans and a leather coat to court. They made the Riverbend out to be a drive-thru for drugs, but in my visits there, it was a nice little bar where you can grab a beer, some food and play a game or two of pool. They already took his livelyhood away by closing the bar and ruined his name. This guy has a family and they've made him out to be some kind of monster. What more do they want...blood or money...or both? If you've followed this case at all, you'll see that Krishbaum has handeled this case from the begining. I would think this would be a conflict of interest. He was involved in the bar closing and now he holds the fate of Messer's future. What is he...judge, jury, and executer? Last time I checked you were innocent until proven guilty. I don't think Messer feels that way right now...do you? If you feel this is wrong like I do, contact your local commissioner and voice your opinion.

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32urbanview(9 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Are you kidding me? That's all you have to do is keep at least one eye open when you read something. The first paragraph says, "A judge has jailed a former Poland Avenue bar owner until further notice for arriving at court wearing blue jeans in violation of the judge’s previous command."

The judge had warned him about his dress in court and he intentionally disobeyed!!!!

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33jrmram2930(2 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

To all those who were quick to judge Mr Messer without knowing all the facts. Mr Messer was taking my son to work for me when he got the call to go to court, evidently somehow no one had told Mr Messer that he had court that day. At first his attorney advised him he was supposed to have been there. Mr Messer told the attorney he just had jeans and a Harley shirt on and first the attorney told him to run home and change and get in there as quick as he could, but the attorney called back several seconds later and told him to forget changing just get in there as quick as possible, which he did and we all know what happened next.

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34ytowngramma(39 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Hmmm...if the judge ordered him to appear in a pink tutu ("Judges orders")and he didnt, would he have jailed him and got away with it?

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