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Dress for Success

July 27, 2020

It has been said, "you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes he or she wears". Well, I am not sure if that's true, but I can tell you the type of clothes you wear to court is an important factor. I think any good attorney will tell you to dress your best to court. It shows respect to the court and because of this leaves judges, prosecutors, and staff with more of a positive impression of who you are as a person. For most aspects of the criminal justice system, a client or defendant has very little control, but how you choose to dress and present yourself to the court is one thing, which you DO have total control of. In the criminal justice system, whether you are charged with OWI (Operating While Intoxicated), any other drunk driving offense, Domestic Violence, or even a traffic offense, whether it be a felony-level trial or simple court appearance in a misdemeanor case, the fact is people may, and often do, form an opinion of you based on the way you dress to court.

I have always told my clients who are scheduled to go in front of a Judge for a criminal matter or a Hearing Officer at the Secretary of State for a Driver's License Restoration Hearing, please dress in your best. Dress like you are going to church or an important job interview. Now, I understand that every individual has different means and must live within them, but having said that, first impressions in a court matter.

As we move through and past the "New Normal" and now that more courts are utilizing tools such as "Zoom" to conduct hearings, I've noticed many defendants getting lazy and wearing inappropriate clothing. Though this era is new, my advice would be to still dress to your best during these zoom hearings. Just because you are not standing next to the Judge or Prosecutor does not mean they cannot see you and that the same decorum is expected. I have not personally witnessed a judge tell a defendant that their appearance is subpar, but even over Zoom, it is noticeable. Remember as well, that when you are waiting for your Zoom case to be called, sometimes other attorneys, defendants, or even judges can see you even if you are not the case currently called.

For most people I represent, their court matter is THE most important issue going on in life at that time, so when it comes to court, help your attorney and DRESS FOR SUCCESS!