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What to wear to court

j

(stands for Jerk)
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I have a small criminal matter pending (it's a total joke that I don't really want to get into) but the prosecutor is carrying it out forever. It's a misdemeanor and a totally ridiculous thing, but it's going to jury trial. I'd like to hear what some trial lawyers have to say on what I should wear to court. I've been dressing so far as well as I can, always better than all the lawyers there, but I'm wondering if that's the image I should present to a jury. I don't want them to resent me or think of me as a rich kid (I'm not, but I'm sure I look that way). Any suggestions?
 

GatorStyle

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J: I'm a trial lawyer.  Because I'm still only in my 20's, I've been in front of relatively few juries (I've had many more non-jury trials).  I've selected, however, a number of juries for trials in which I wasn't the primary litigator, and so I'm reasonably familiar with the nuances and subtleties of juries.  Also, I'm primarily a commercial litigator, and I work only in the civil (not criminal) context.  Nevertheless, the same rules typically apply with regard to this issue in either context.

Often, we encourage our clients to dress better than they do on a daily basis if they're about to appear before a jury.  Most people, however- even the successful business-types that comprise the bulk of our clientele- don't dress as well as you and, I'm sure, most guys do in this forum.  Some dress atrociously, in fact.  We encourage them to do things that come second-nature to most of us here-  get a haircut, shave, put on a suit/tie/well-shined shoes, etc.  The basics.  It's generally important to be clean cut and pleasant in appearance.  You'd be surprised how often (even after being instructed to do so) clients are unable to pull it together when they show up for trial.  I've had clients show up to court in ripped jeans, old football jerseys, you name it.

For those who are used to dressing well, we generally advise that they tone it down.  Very common-sense stuff for those who know and understand style.  Conservative solid suit (be wary of pinstripes), not overly ostentatious.  Conservative tie (small-pattern, modest diagonal striped rep tie- if you go with solid tie, keep the color fairly dull: no shiny silvers).  White shirt- no french cuffs.  Nice lace-up shoes, well-shined:  no monkstraps, buckles, side-zips, etc.).  Neat, clean haircut.  Generally no facial hair.  Little jewelry and, for guys, nothing other than very modest watch (keep the Patek or Rolex at home) and wedding band.  Pass on the nose/eyebrow/tongue ring.  If you wear contacts, glasses might be a good idea that day.

You want the jury to like you, to think of you as a nice guy.  You don't want them to see you scruffy and unkempt but, just as importantly, you don't want to "show them up."  Boy next door is generally a good look.  Jurors will typically be older so go for that handsome grandson look.  Of course, your jury may be comprised differently and you may want to make modest adjustments as appropriate.  Make 'em think you couldn't have done what they say you did.  Of course, all of this may change to some slight degree depending on the alleged crime (public urination vs. murder), but not significantly so.

These are, of course, all generalizations.  If you want to bounce any specific questions (or proposed outfits) off of me and the other lawyers in this forum, I (and I'm sure they) would be more than happy to offer input.
 

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