“Will Work for Weed” T-Shirts, Zoot Suits, and Other Things You Shouldn’t Wear to Court

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Oct. 28 2013 1:00 PM

“Will Work for Weed” T-Shirts, Zoot Suits, and Other Things You Shouldn’t Wear to Court

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Seriously, you should not wear either of these shirts to court.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, in a story about a convicted arsonist who wore a “Snitches Get Stitches” T-shirt to his sentencing hearing, I encouraged readers to get in touch if they had any good stories about inappropriate courtroom attire. Well, tasteless apparel is apparently a Hot Topic, because I heard from a lot of you. Here are some of the best responses.

Sending the wrong message. “I'm a public defender—I won't say where—and had a client come to court for a violation of probation hearing. The main issue with his probation was that he still owed about $1,000 in restitution for an old theft conviction, and was intending to claim that he was completely destitute and unable to make any payments to the victim in the case.

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“Of course he came to court with two large diamond earrings, brand-new sneakers, and designer jeans. It’s likely the diamonds were fakes and the sneakers and jeans were knock-offs, but, as I explained to him before making a motion to postpone the hearing on a technicality that was eventually granted without him actually being present in the courtroom, attempting to give off the appearance of wealth at a hearing when you're trying to claim complete poverty might not be the wisest choice …”

An unreliable witness. “As a criminal defense attorney, I had a client convicted based on the testimony of a witness wearing a T-shirt emblazoned ‘Will work for weed.’ The conviction was later overturned.”

Truth in advertising. “A few summers ago I was observing criminal court as an intern with the prosecutor’s office. A defendant was called up for a trial scheduling matter and I noticed he had a T-shirt that read: ‘Please do not disturb—I'm disturbed enough already.’ Intrigued, I took a peek at the docket sheet to see what he was charged with. Appropriately enough, it was a child pornography case.”

The world needs to know! “I was pleased that my client had support in court when she pled guilty and was sentenced, but it might have been better if her girlfriend hadn't worn the ‘vaginas are awesome’ T-shirt.”

State v. Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. “My wife, an attorney in Florida, had a client who asked what he should wear to his court hearing. She told him to wear what he would wear to church, not a bad idea. He arrived at court wearing a bright yellow zoot suit, complete with the knee-length jacket, matching wide brimmed hat, an ankle-length silver chain attached to his wallet, a white patent leather belt, and shiny white leather shoes. The judge was not amused. Now she tells clients to dress like they are going to a funeral.”

Got more stories? Send ‘em my way at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

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