Fashion Police

Gary A. Nickerson, the Massachusetts judge hearing the trial of Christopher M. McCowen, accused of murdering Christa Worthington in her Truro home in 2002, ordered a college student watching the trial to be handcuffed and confined in the courthouse lockup. The student offended the judge’s sense of courtroom decorum by wearing Bermuda shorts. Before slapping the student in irons the judge, through a court officer, informed the student that he was not dressed properly for court. Apparently the student did not take the message seriously because he remained bare-legged in the courtroom. Judge Nickerson called the student to a sidebar conference. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly noted dryly that “[a]pparently, the discussion did not go well for the student . . .” Judge Nickerson found him in contempt of court. The student was held for a few hours in the same cell as McCowen, the accused murderer. “What are you in for?” “I’m accused of first-degree murder. How about you?” “I’ve got bony knees.” Shorts Story, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, 6-Nov-06, p. 5, 35 MLW 581

5 Replies to “Fashion Police”

  1. jhayden

    I agree that people should dress properly for court, but what does that mean? Does it say somewhere on the door before entering that you need to be wearing slacks, no sneakers, or anything like that? They don’t allow you into clubs if you aren’t dressed appropriately, so why did the security guards allow this student in if he wasn’t dressed properly? The only notice the court has is “no guns.” A student I was with was kicked out for whispering, when in fact, the entire court room was whispering, including the security guards! I’m just wondering if wearing shorts is wrong in general or if its only wrong in that judge’s court room?

  2. alvs27

    I definitely agree with the above comment. People need to address the court with a bit more professionalism and this includes proper attire. However, I think that the judge should have asked the student to leave or had him escorted out of the courtroom rather than putting him in the slammer…that’s one guy who woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

  3. jmd1

    This story is very funny, but behind the humor, it does talk about an important issue. I agree with the judge – I think that out of respect for the court and the legal system in general, you should wear proper attire. Obviously, dressing inappropriately is not nearly as felonious as murdering someone, but there needs to be some discipline directed towards those who do not take the court seriously, even if you are just an onlooker.

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