<i>When Making a Courtroom Appearance, Dress to Impress</i>

By AYN ROBBINS

COURTLY WARDROBE: Dr. Brett Robbins visits with Tulsa County Court Administrator Vickie Cox about appropriate clothing for a well-dressed juror. Cox recommends that Tulsans choose business casual attire when called to jury duty.

AYN ROBBINS for GTR Newspapers


When you go into court, you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.
– Norm Crosby, comedian

I am surely in the minority of minnows in the jury pool who willingly, willfully and wistfully show up at the courthouse with summons in hand, eagerly anticipating the experience. I have served three times and have never tried to “get out of it.” Even if a person is not selected to serve on a jury, it is a fascinating people watch.

Vicki Cox, the new Tulsa County Court administrator, generously granted me an impromptu interview recently to discuss the appropriate attire of jurors. She assumed her current duties at the beginning of June, which includes juror management. There are no jury trials in Tulsa during the month of July, it turns out, so I dragged my son, Dr. Brett Robbins, with me to determine whether his casual dress of jeans and a polo shirt would fly in a court of law these days. He wasn’t thrilled by the experiment. I can’t say Ms. Cox displayed a great deal of enthusiasm either. After brief but thorough scrutiny, however, Dr. Brett passed inspection.
Well, sort of.

“Yes, jeans are allowed, but slacks are preferred. I don’t expect people to go out and buy clothes for jury duty,” Ms. Cox says.
If you are having a bad hair day, beware. Cowboy hats and baseball caps are ix-nay.

“You will be asked to remove your hat in the courtroom,” the stoical attorney advised.

Administrator Cox conceded, however, that the rules of courtroom attire for jurors have somewhat relaxed.

“It is a little less formal than it used to be. A suit or coat and tie used to be appropriate for gentlemen. Women wore dresses. Now women wear slacks, and Dockers and jeans are appropriate.” The dress of the day is considered “casual business attire.”

Now, before you nurses come dressed in teddy bear print and you rodeo riders appear in dusty britches and leather chaps, it isn’t your normal business attire they are looking for: it is courtroom-appropriate business attire. For more information, visit www.tulsadistrictcourt.com.
(For the record, Your Honor, Ms. Cox was wearing dress slacks and a jacket.)

The jury room was bristling and brimming the Monday before we jurors were called for duty. Cliques formed while others read books and magazines, attended to their work, listened to iPods, watched television, “Googled” and nodded off. One prominent and distinguished gentleman, wearing what appeared to be a fine European suit, sat alone at a table for four, reading the newspaper, oblivious to the chatter around him. I won’t reveal his name, but he knows who he is—and chances are you would, too.
On the other hand, a young woman sat next to me during the voir dire process (jury questioning), wearing low-cut jeans and a thong (we’re not talking flip flops here), up to her ears it seemed. Ms. Cox wouldn’t have been pleased, but the men who filed out behind her at the end of the day may have been (she didn’t make the cut on the second day).

Most jurors fall somewhere between dapper and daring. Madonna couldn’t decide which to be and wore two outfits on a single day, arriving at the courthouse in a sweat suit and changing into a black designer suit in the afternoon.

Winners in the court of appeal include Mariah Carey, Eva Longoria and Jennifer Lopez. Brad Pitt and Arnold Schwartzenegger have been sequestered as well as Robert DeNiro and Regis Philbin. Others called to jury duty include comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Carell and Woody Allen.

If you really want to be picked as a juror (and why wouldn’t you?), I suggest dressing comfortably, respectfully and under-the-radar. It is definitely not about you. Someone else is putting his/her fate in your hands.

Enjoy the experience, but in doing so, and as a reader of Trendz, be careful not to commit your own “crime of fashion.”
Ciao for now!

Updated 07-31-2008

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